Today snuck up on me. Or, maybe I should say that yesterday snuck up on me. Yesterday, April 6th, was the birthday of my cousin Kelly who passed away nearly twenty years ago at the age of twenty-three. To be honest, I’ve been a crazy person this week. With activities for the kiddos, work stuff, and the regular rigmarole of life, I only thought of it being Kelly’s birthday a few times. Until today.
There’s something about grief that doesn’t seem to go away.
It sneaks up on you, catches you by surprise, and for a moment, you are back in the world of reliving what life would have or could have been like if one of your favorite persons was still walking on Earth.
Grief caught up to me today. In the car. Driving on a busy road. Tears streaming down my face. Wishing she was here so that we could scavenge the ground of parenting together. I found myself longing to see her smile, hear her laughter, and giggle at the things that the two of us found so amusing.
Kelly would be forty-three-years-old this year. Who knows what her life would be like, but I’d like to think that it would be one full of children (she loved them, so). She would probably have a gaggle of kittens and pups that she rescued. Her yard would be covered in tulips (her favorite flower). I’m sure she would still enjoy a big ‘ole iced tea and the Sunday newspaper. In my mind, she’s still twenty-three, wearing baby doll dresses, hitting the flea markets, rooting for the underdog, loving tulips, and struggling with the issues she faced.
There’s something about grief that keeps us locked in time.
Shortly after she passed, I had a dream. The two of us were driving, windows down, music blaring, huge smiles, and no words. It was our “Thelma and Louise” moment. Kelly, dressed in all white, the sun kissing her face, her eyes sparkling with light, and the wind whipping through her hair, looked at me, looked towards the sun, and smiled a smile that kissed her cheekbones.
It may sound odd, but I’ve prayed about dreaming of her again. I’ve longed to see her alive in my dreams, to converse with her, to share laughter, and to just be us. But…these dreams have not come…not since 1996.
Forty-three years ago, my cousin, one of my first friends, and my best friend was born into the world. Twenty years ago, she left. My last visual of her was in the dream, smiling, laughing, happy, and free.
There’s something about grief. There’s also something about life. Each time I see a tulip, I think of her. I think of life, and how precious it is.