Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Second chances don't always come
Mostly the world goes along, spinning away; and although we hear of this or that happening, one week seems a lot like another. Mostly that's how it is with our own lives, but once in awhile something happens that slams us alongside the head reminding us of the finiteness of life and that some things can't be planned or known.
Sunday I was on the phone with two cousins I haven't talked to much in recent years. My brother and I talked also. The calls came because of the death of our younger cousin, Mary. Friday I had been shocked (shocked is not too strong a word) to learn she had died. Someone 58 doesn't just die with no warning, no symptoms. But she had. Her brother, one of those cousins, said the autopsy results are not complete and for now, they still do not know why. Maybe the answers will come. Maybe not.
The photo above is four of us cousins at the farm where I grew up (Mary is standing to the left, a bit apart. I'm the tall one in the back with glasses). Most likely it was Easter as every Easter the family (grandmother, her four children, their spouses and many grandchildren) gathered at our farm for Easter egg hunts and a big ham dinner. The holidays were divided that way, and we pretty much always knew we'd be at one family's or another for each of them.
I remember the times the gatherings were at Mary's family home with a big color photograph of her baby picture on the living room wall. Her parents were so proud of her beauty. She had lovely, long red hair, the kind of coloring that makes red hair a rare gift. There are other memories, some sweet and some not so much.
Since learning of her death, as you can imagine, I have spent a lot of time thinking about her and the years that used to be. To the back of that photo, you can see a big old barn. We cousins used to go out there and pretend we were the Mouseketeers (you aren't too young if you know what that means). Being the oldest, I was always Annette (you likely are in my age group if you know who she was). We would climb up on the hay stacks, get hold of a bar tied to a big thick rope that hung from the rafters, and swing out across the barn floor while yelling our Mouse Club names and singing the theme song. *M-I-C... K-E-Y...*
Since I heard Mary had died, my regrets have been many as we had been talking about getting together, us being the remaining cousins. The last time she and I talked, she said the ball was in my court. I fumbled it.
It's not like I didn't know life can end abruptly. The next tallest girl in the photo was my first cousin to die. She was maid of honor at my wedding. Her death, about five years later, was also a shock as she was in her mid 20s, went into the hospital for what seemed like a bad case of the flu; and the next I heard, she was dead.
Because of being busy. Because of separate interests, Because the family drifted apart after my grandmother died, I rarely saw Mary. I don't know much about her as to the adult she became other than she always seemed sweet, a nice person with a caring attitude. She was caregiver during her mother's long illness and finally end of life. Mary and I might have been friends as adults if we had spent more time together. She didn't live all that far away. I missed the chance to know her and can blame nobody but myself.
I wouldn't even write about this as it doesn't do any good for Mary or me. I can't undo my regrets and kicking myself won't help. If she and I had gotten together, there is no reason to think she would not have still died last week. I am though writing it for everybody with a 'meant to' in their lives where it isn't too late. Sometimes tomorrow never comes.