I could probably come up with a witty post about balls, rods or all manner of euphemistic-sounding words but that wouldn’t be true to my heart this week. Since moving out on my own and discovering myself (yes, I am aware of how lame that sounds) I have come to appreciate that life is a gift and not the torturous existence I had once believed it to be.
For the first time in my life, it would seem as if I feel, if not happy, then pretty contented with my life and where it is heading. Things seem to have fallen into place in the last six months and I am actively planning for the future with a sense of excitement. But as much as I want to embrace the future and not look back, I find myself thinking back to a devastating day just over eighteen months ago.
On January 17th 2013, my beloved cousin Heather was killed in a car accident. Her passing was so sudden and unexpected that it ripped a hole so wide in our family that I thought we’d never recover. As a family grieving, we turned on one another instead of being there to support and console, we blamed and pointed fingers instead of uniting and standing together. Instead of honouring her memory, we found ourselves so wrapped up in our own distress that we often used her passing as a weapon to wound one another.
With our family fractured and displaced, it seemed that we would never see eye to eye again. Yet something wonderous happened without any of us realising it at the time. Despite the tensions between the adults, we never let the children of our family suffer for it. Even when we were not speaking, the one thing that brought us together were Heather’s niece and nephew. There were so young when she died, yet she loved them more than anything. Heather was the type of aunt that gave nothing but love and affection, showering her niece and nephew with gifts more valuable than toys or money.
Her nephew, Connor, turned three on August 10th and it fills me with sadness that, as he was so young when Heather died, he’ll never really remember her or how she loved both him and his sister, Molly. Although I would never want to take her place, I have made it my goal to try to give the children all of the things that Heather would have. Last Christmas I made the children a memory book of their aunt, with pictures from every stage of her life, from childhood up until the year that she died. I also made them a video of her so that they could watch it and somehow feel closer to her even though she is no longer with us.
Molly knocked me for six a couple of weeks ago when she asked if she could call me ‘auntie’. While Heather will always be their true aunt, I hope that I can somehow still give them the love, nurturing and understanding that Heather would have.
Heather’s passing shows how precious life really is and how it can be snatched away from you in mere moments. Life is precious and each day that we spend in the presence of the people we love is a gift and one that we should never take for granted. Though she may be gone from our lives, Heather lives on in the hearts and minds of the people who loved her.
No matter how much time passes, I will always make sure that Molly and Connor remember you, Heather, I promise you that.