When the People You Love Get Away from You

My cousin, Wendy, Myself, & my lil "nousin" Kylee
 My friend Anna passed away last week. It was heartbreaking. She passed away of breast cancer way too young. She was one of the first friends I met in Raleigh and I remember spending time at her house eating decadent junk food such as chocolate covered strawberries and anything that would pair well with chocolate fondu and watching crazy Bollywood movies. We had our awesome Single Girls Valentine’s Day party their once. It was amazing. I liked her because she was like me. She was single, in her thirties, owned her own home, had a great career, and went skydiving often. I’ve never been skydiving and at the time I wasn’t “quite” thirty but I loved that she did all this and she didn’t care that she didn’t fit the “norm” of house, husband, kids, job, etc.  When she passed away all those memories and the laughter came flooding back. I told my mom I’d just found out she passed away. Mom asked me if she was married. I said no. I was wrong. She’d gotten married and moved and had a bonus child from her husband’s first marriage and I totally missed it. How could I miss it? How could someone I admired and had such fond memories of go through a total life change and I didn’t even know about it?

I worked a wedding this weekend. As a makeup artist I do LOTS of weddings. Most of the time I’m paid to work my magic and then leave. On occasion I’ve been asked to stick around until after the ceremony to touch up makeup for photos. This weekend I was invited to stay for the whole party which was cool because, as it turned out, I had an aunt and uncle plus 2 cousins and their families in attendance. I’m sitting in my seat just before the ceremony and see these two lovely strawberry blonde girls. They are sitting with my cousin, Wendy, who is the mother of two baby girls. Well, apparently, those babies are seven and nine years old. When did this happen?
The party was amazing and I had a great time with my “nousins.” (Nousins are what I call my cousin’s kids. My cousins are more like sisters and their kids are niece and nephew age so they are my nousins.) In fact, I’ve determined that if I had a female child she would basically be exactly like my nousin, Kylee. Watching Kylee dance and sing and constantly request songs of the DJ was like a breath of fresh air. I’m not a “baby person” per se, but kids are funny. I love their childlike faith and enthusiasm over everything. All things are still new and fresh and fun. I feel so blessed to have witnessed this in Kylee this weekend.

That night as I was laying in bed I thought of my sister. I’d spoken to her over the phone that week for the first time in months. There was a time in our young lives where we were out of touch for years. There was also a time in our lives where I basically felt as if I had my own room in her house because I was there so much. That room is now my actual nephew’s room and I just sat and had a debate over how old he is with my husband. (I just texted my sister so here’s hoping I’m right!) For the past few years I’ve only seen my nephew, Parker, at his birthday parties. This isn’t what I wanted for our relationship when I first heard my sister was pregnant with him.

As the night rolled on, so did the realizations. Young cousins were in college, getting their license, and celebrating ten years of marriage. Some had gotten re-married and I’d never met their husbands. Great friends I met when I first moved to Raleigh and spent so much time with were semi-strangers now. I could say “Hello” to them and congratulate them on their new houses and jobs but I didn’t really know where said houses and jobs were. If it weren’t for Facebook, I wouldn’t even know that stuff. That’s incredibly sad…and shameful.

So I made a decision. I’m not going to let the lives of the people I love pass me by. I’m not going to miss my nousin’s dancing and singing. I’m not going to only see my nephew on occasion and he only know me by name. I refuse to be that friend that is so touched by a life then loses all touch with it. Yes, I know, people are busy. We are all so very busy. Many of us are pretty far apart spatially as well. This is not an excuse. What good is life and things if we let the people pass us by? Why have we made it ok so be so busy and full of our own “stuff” that we let the people slip through our hands? It’s so easy to tell ourselves that we can always “catch up with them later” or that “they have their own lives and families and we don’t need to bother them.” I’ve even heard people lament that they never hear from certain people, etc. Well, I’ve learned an amazing feature on my mobile phone. It makes outgoing calls too! (*holds up sarcasm sign) I’ve taken the attitude of “if I don’t make the appointment to get together, they won’t.” Yes, I realize they really want to hang out with me because I’m really awesome but they, too, may feel as if they are” too busy” or that I’m “too busy” or they don’t want to “bother me.” They may not even know about that cool “call out” feature on their phones yet. Let me be clear: We need to get together. I don’t want to miss out on Kylee’s dancing, Anna’s wedding, or  Parker’s hilarious country accent. So if you’ll excuse me, I need to organize a movie night where some friends I haven’t spent time with in a while and I get together for chocolate fondu and our favorite Bollywood movie, Bride and Prejudice. Thank you so much, Anna. You helped me remember to appreciate the people I love while we’re all still here. You are still so awesome.

PS, Kylee, keep dancing.

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