It’s been a bit of a rocky week. Last weekend went great, but Monday morning I woke to news that one of my favorite cousins passed away late Sunday night. We hadn’t been particularly close in our adult lives, but we were close in our teenage years. We were less than a year apart in age, and always had a blast when we were together. She was the sweetest person I have ever met on this planet. She even got along with her two brothers, more so than any other person I knew with siblings. In the summers when I went to my grandparents for two weeks every year, we were always together, usually from sun up to sun down. Because of her, I was never afraid to run through the horse fields, play in the creek, climb the fences, or walk the back country roads, just the two of us, for hours on end. We spent many days and evenings at the county fair, eating fried foods, drinking tons of lemonade, and taking endless turns on the rides until we were sick to our stomachs. We would sit on the front porch with the aunts and other cousins, stringing bushels of beans for big country dinners. Being a city girl, she never looked down on me for it, and she helped me to fit in with my country family. Even though we were third or fourth cousins, she always made me feel like a sister, she was so loving and sweet. And, when I wasn’t visiting down home, we were writing letters back and forth to each other (as it was long before email was available). She always had the best outlook on life, and she always made the best with whatever life threw at her. She married her high school sweetheart, had three wonderful children, and was unfortunately widowed young. I do regret not spending more time with this beautiful soul, and I cherish every minute I did get to spend with her. This long week has been spent with sudden memories coming back of all the fun we had together, and trying to stop the sudden wave of tears that comes with those memories. It’s even more startling to realize that she was taken from us just shy of her forty-second birthday by the breast cancer she had been battling for three years. I watched her struggle with it from afar on Facebook, offering support when I could, looking forward to her posts, as she seemed to make such good progress, and seemed to be in remission. Now, I wish I had closed the gap, and made time to go see her, just to show her how much I loved her, and looked up to her. Her sweet and loving smile and personality will live forever in my memories and photos. This has taught me that I need to stop “trying” to find time for family, that I need to just stop and make time for family. This has been a hard lesson to learn, and it’s a lesson that will not go ignored. I plan to make this summer busy with visits down home to see the family I miss, the sisters I had to grow up without, and the nieces and nephews I have never met. I plan to make the most of the time I have been given with my loved ones.