When I was a kid, my cousins were like extra siblings. We spent a lot of time together. Our families visited each other very often, and we were close. Close enough to fight and bicker, laugh and torture each other, to know one another well, and feel a special bond as a family. As is, I expect usually the case, time went by and we grew up and got into the social circles of our schools and became more involved locally, there were fewer visits, and so our cousins were less like siblings and more like, well cousins I guess.
We still see each other occasionally, but nothing like it was when we were kids. We have grown up, started families, careers, and so on. When we do get together, we enjoy those times, but we don’t have the freedom, the inkling, or time to go play for hours on end like we used to. And when you are in a stage of life where a conversation is a privilege reserved for those without small children, keeping in touch can be an impossible task. For the most part it seems that this is just something that happens to cousins. Not necessarily bad, but a fact, just the way it is.
So when I got the call at 6:30 this morning from my mom letting me know that my 27 year old cousin Kristina was killed in a car accident, I wasn’t sure what to think. At first I thought back to our last interaction. It was at our Aunt Virginia’s funeral almost a year ago. All of us were glad to see one another, but with taking care of our own children, and seeing tons of relatives all at once, there wasn’t much time for interaction. I remember exchanging words, and I am pretty sure (hope) I gave her a hug, but I don’t remember much else.
After some time thinking about our last time seeing one another, frustrated that it wasn’t more distinct, I started to remember those times spent as a child when we were more like siblings. I remember kissing her forehead as she lay in her baby seat, seeing her sitting up on a counter at my grandparents house, wide eyed, and beautiful. She just looked around, taking in all that was going on, not making much noise. As she got older I remember learning to use reverse psychology on her. She wanted to pull my hair and wouldn’t stop. I discovered though that if I asked her to keep doing it, she no longer had the desire. I remember playing on her swing set in their back yard next to the garage, and watching “The Little Mermaid” with her. She was a beautiful girl, and I have fond memories of those days.
To me it is sad that in my most vivid memories, she is the age of the children she leaves behind. A heartbreaking reminder of how quickly time passes, and relationships can fade when not maintained. Much time has passed since our childhood bonds were made, and many things have changed, but what never changes is the fact that we are family, we are cousins. I love you and will miss you Kristina!