So this is how my morning started:
Phone rings: “Hello”
My mom: “Were you asleep?”
Me: “What’s wrong”
My mom: “Katrina died”.
My mom: “Around 2”
We tend not to sugarcoat things.
This is the second time in two months I have gotten this call. Another cousin gone too soon. She lost a valiant fight against leukemia.
I went back to the day my oldest cousin passed away in January. I had to call her and as I was calling her she was texting me. She was headed to a different hospital for new treatments. She never left the hospital. Things went wrong, way wrong.
On that day in January we were talking on the phone and she told me how scared she was and how she hoped I would pray for her. I did. I assured her that everything would work out just like it was supposed to. I try not to make promises that things will be okay. Did that once, never again.
Today, after I got the phone call I spazed out for lack of a better term. I just laid her in my bed and looked at the ceiling willing something that didn’t happen. It was the only thing that would have made this moment bearable. I just laid here. As much as I wanted to get up and move, I could not will my body to comply. She was just 5 days older than me. People always said that we looked the most alike of any of the cousins.
I finally decided I had to get up. I literally dragged myself out of the bed, got dressed and walked out to my car and I ran away from home. Nobody, not my folks, not my person, not my best friend. Nobody knew where I was. I didn’t know where I was going when I left, I just knew I had to leave.
See, I am a runner. I can’t be still when I am stressed. I go. If for a walk, a drive, a hike whatever I go. When I can’t deal, I run. So, I start on my journey, just going. Driving is my thinking time. So as I drove, I thought about my cousin.
She was interesting. We had one falling out when she basically told me that I was less a woman because I couldn’t have children. I settled that pretty swiftly and we went on with our lives. Actually, I think we got closer after that.
She didn’t live near me. It is about an 8 hour drive. The last time her family came to visit she was messaging me on Facebook on her way and suddenly on a Sunday night, she walked into our church. She never told me she was coming. She was trying to surprise me.
I remember one time as a teenager making her mad. They went to a private school and they were in cubicles. She said that if they needed something they raised a flag for what they needed. Being the true smart ass I am, I said do you have one to go to the bathroom? She said yes, I said I guess one is yellow for number one and brown for number 2. She didn’t speak to me the rest of the day.
That same trip, she put my grandfather, a Baptist minister into shock. He was very straight laced and the one time he took her to town she was hanging out his truck window yelling at boys. That didn’t go over well.
She was interesting. She was a web designer, small town journalist, they had a store where they sold things they made, it was Amish in style. She enjoyed the plain lifestyle.
When hurricane Katrina came through people offered her big money for her domain name for her website and she refused. Instead she took her own website and used it as a place where people in need could go for help.
She had a son early in their marriage. Then she lost two children. She adopted 4 children from the same family . The day the adoption became final, she found out that she was pregnant again.
She homeschooled her children. She taught them during the day and she did her business at night. She taught them what they would need to survive and to thrive.
As I was driving along today I thought about how much loss will be felt by these children, her husband, her mom, her sister and her brother.
This is the second time in two months I have wondered why. Like I told my person and my mom, it could have been me as easy at it was her. We have that common genetic thread. Our grandmother died of leukemia. I thought about if it had been me, would it have mattered as much??