One year ago today we lost a family member. I never posted anything about it on this blog because it always felt unreal and we were in the middle of all kinds of craziness with our move. I knew putting the words to it would be hard so I chose to avoid it instead.
Andrea is my cousin. She was almost one year younger than me. There were always those couple of months each year we were the same age. She was born with a rare liver disease and was the first child liver transplant in the state we grew up in. Even though she was sick her whole life, her death came unexpectedly. I mean we always knew she wouldn't be here on earth forever. There were many times in her life where she was near death, but she always fought and came back. So last year on the evening of January 15 when I got a phone call from my aunt telling me Andrea was gone, it just seemed unreal.
I couldn't find the courage to speak at her funeral (public speaking is not my thing), but I had written down a few words to share and my hubby read them for me. Today I want to share them and a few more with you to honor my cousin who our family misses. Andrea and I were close while we were kids. We were frequently together at my MamMaw's house and many times when my uncle had her for the weekend, they would stay with us at our house or I would go and stay with my uncle so we could play together. She was definitely one of my first best friends and even though we got on each other's nerves more times than we could count, we were cousins and we loved each other. I remember all the crazy things we did together like the time we fixed PapPaw's hair with barrettes. He never let us mess with his hair, but one day we finally wore him down and I have no clue how many barrettes we got in his hair that day. I just remember posing for the picture with him and all the giggles the entire time we were fixing his hair. I remember the long waits at the top of the stairs on Christmas morning as we waited for my uncle to come over so we could open presents. We always turned this time into some sort of game that drove my brother nuts. I remember all of us kids gulping down MamMaw's glass of sweet tea. We did this so often, she lovingly referred to her glass of tea as the community cup. Andrea and I just always hoped we got our drinks before my brother who tended to have bigger gulps than we did. :) I also remember getting locked out of our house as pre-teens because Andrea was being helpful and shutting the door as we went out to grab the paper. What she didn't know was that the door was locked. My uncle was napping before he went to work and when he slept a bomb could have blown up beside him and he would have slept through it. Thankfully it was a warm day and he woke up looking for us after about an hour. After I got done being mad that we were locked out, I am sure we created something to do to pass the time. We also might have let out the horses at my aunt's farm a time or two by accident. Playing tag was way more important than checking gates at the time. There are tons and tons more fun memories that I have of the things we did and got in trouble for over the years. Andrea was stubborn. She was this way her whole life. All of her parents will tell you that and they all laugh about it now. You could say the sky was blue and she would argue why it wasn't, just to be stubborn. Even though this sounds like a bad thing, it was probably how she kept going through all the illness, pain, and surgeries she had. Andrea was also fighter. Like I said before, there were many times she almost died, but she kept fighting. Andrea had an adventurous side and very few things scared her. She rode mini dirtbikes even after she burned her leg on the exhaust. The most important thing about her was that she loved her family. There were times we fought like cats and dogs. There were times we didn't see each other often. As adults we didn't stay in touch all the time. But no matter what happened when we saw each other, before we would leave she would hug me and say "I love you Cuz." She meant it. No matter what, even if we were driving each other crazy. And no matter what, over the years I loved her too. I still love her and miss her as I know all of our other family members do too. If I learned anything from Andrea it was to love fiercely. So if I tell you "I love you," I truly mean it and I will always love you no matter what because it is who I am and what I have been taught. While I miss Andrea here on earth, I know that she is in Heaven because she trusted Jesus Christ as her Savior. I know that because she is in Heaven, she is healed, she is whole, she is healthy, and she is with my MamMaw and PapPaw who went before her. I look forward to seeing her again one day in Heaven. I love you Cuz!