“Kathy passed away” are the words I heard my dad stammer through my cell phone just as I was turning the corner on a new, exciting adventure in my life.
My response “Oh God No!! Are you sure???”
That was Tuesday. It kind of seems like a lifetime ago. It has only been four days ago. Today was the day we returned her earthly form back to the Earth.
You will never know who she was. She was not a “famous” person. She was a wife, a mother, a grandmother, a school teacher, a Proverbs 31 woman, she was my oldest cousin.
She delighted in all that she did. She loved the children she taught and they loved
She was the medley to my harmony in the church choir. She was only 58 and it was a sudden passing. She walked out to her car and never made it.
I have tried to go on with life as normal as I could but her husband and son were in the back of my mind. I talked to her husband the other night and he said you are the one person who knows how I feel right now.
I wanted to tell him it gets worse before it gets better but it will get better.
I watched last night as the funeral home staff had trouble accommodating all the people who came through. I saw family I don’t see very often. There were tears and hugs. We had lost one of our own. There are so many holes that will need to be filled that can’t be.
I saw her fellow teachers gather and go through as a group and I saw them cry with each other. Not only is her physical presence gone from her blood family but also her work family.
As I walked up to the front of the chapel at the funeral home, I was alone, I saw the hand prints of the children at the school where she taught shaped into a heart. They had either just signed their name or they had written her a message of love. Over to the side I saw a tree branch. It had notes from her students on why they loved Mrs. B. “Because she gave us ice cream even if we didn’t have money”, “Because she gave us gum”, “Because she was always smiling”, “Because she loved me”.
As I got up to the casket there were letters from her granddaughters. Telling her that she was missed and they know she is in Heaven with Jesus.
I waiting for the rest of the extended family on the seats where we would sit. My niece and her family came in and I got a view of death from a five year old perspective. The first question I was asked was “Does that girl in the box have legs?” Yes, I told her. The bottom half of the box is just closed. She didn’t even think about that being her Nana’s cousin or the lady who always put her in the car each day after school. It was just “that girl”. When I had to take her to the bathroom out of the hearing of other family members she asked the question that she had been wanting to ask. “Is that girl up on the stage , in the box, is she dead.” I answered her truthfully. Yes she is. She is gone to be with Jesus.
It was refreshing to see her view of death. She was just curious. She didn’t know to be sad. She just had questions. Today, as I sat in a church pew in the back of the church, I saw a room full of people who had taken time out of their lives to come and say maybe not goodbye but see you later. I watched as our pastor choked back tears as he talked about the woman she was.
I listened as the first song that was played was “Do You Hear What I Hear” by Homefree which is funny because that song is what got me hooked on their music and I could just hear her say “Haha got you, you didn’t know I loved their music too.”
I watched as her family went up to view her body one last time.Tears flowed yet we all laughed as the preacher talked about how she was the worker bee. He said, If she was able to right now she would be up working and he was right and that was why we all laughed. We knew it was true.
I listened as the congregation joined in to sing “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see, as I look upon his face, the one who saved me by his grace, when he takes me by the hand and leads me to the promised land, what a day glorious day that will be.”
I saw as people rejoice that he troubles here were over.
After the service, my cousin (who had driven all night just to be here for the service) and I helped my aunt out to where she could sit. Her health is not good. Then we went back to get my mom because her health is not good. Then we walked to the cemetery together. To the spot where our cousin would be buried next to her twin granddaughters who were still born, her sister and her parents.
As we walked along, we talked. I said when did we get to this place? This place where we are worrying about our parents health and burying cousins. His response, We blinked. We talked about what was going on in ours lives and he looked me dead in the eyes and said “You are so special. Don’t let anyone tell you any different and don’t you ever settle.”
If we like it or not, everything we say or do creates a ripple. It can be positive or it can be negative but we do affect others lives. You can make some feel good about themselves or you can cut them to the bone. I will take my younger cousins words and my oldest cousins attitude toward life and try to create my own ripple in a new way. We are all part of those we love.
The ripple she created will be wide spreading for many years to come. I was blessed to call her my cousin.