Saturday, April 2, 2011

More than a cousin

In losing a special friend and volunteer this week, I noticed something.  The best words often said about someone are after they're gone.  Obituaries, eulogies, and the kind words said to the family and friends about the said loss are perhaps never heard by the person needing to hear it most.  As I was remembering my friend and writing about all the things I loved about her, I wondered if I ever really shared all those feelings with her.  And really, who does?

Sure, we tell people on special occasions, maybe a few lines in a greeting card, or through an email, and when the time seems fitting.  We tell our immediate family "I love you" often, at least I do.  I know I've been working on ensuring that I always share my feelings with Tim and Noah.  Even little things that are sometimes overlooked, I make it a point to tell them I'm proud, or thankful, or happy.  However, in reflecting on all this, it's made me realize I need to a better job of paying tribute to the other people I care about - in the present.

My cousin is on my mind today, as I'm heading to her house in a bit for some quality girl time.  (More to come on that fun tomorrow!)  Jennifer has always been much more than a cousin to me though.  I think of her as a sister and as one of my closest friends.  I'd like to say it's been a mutual effort for us to remain this close, through growing up, marriage and kids, but I truly think she deserves most of the credit.  Time and again, she's been there for me and somehow always seems to know when to call, or send an email, or schedule time together.  She keeps me out of my rut and reminds me that I'm worth time too.

Growing up I was always envious of Jennye, for her beauty, her intelligence, and her willpower.  Today, those are all qualities I admire about her.  What I love most about her is her sense of humor.  You can't hang around her more than two or three minutes, that you aren't laughing.  She has a dry and sarcastic, sometimes very bold sense of humor.  Nothing seems to embarrass her.  She's quick witted and full of one liners, that through the years, have always kept me smiling and laughing out loud.

From singing American Pie while swaying on Grandma's swing having two soul brothers sing backup on my first live karaoke experience, with her in the audience.  To picking on our siblings...making my sister Wendy drop her milk, which dropped with a crash and splattered all over the wall, to dressing up Clayton in bows and makeup because Jen was jealous I got a baby sister and she didn' still making fun of the two of them today, like their night/day eyebrows.  To memories of road trips and vacations....shared moments of being pregnant together with Brooke and Noah.  To many others in between...and more to come.

There's so many fond memories I have with her, there's no way I could capture them all in a single post.  And there's certainly a few stories with her that are funny enough to stand on their own as a story.  What I love is that the treasured moments didn't end at childhood.  I can imagine that someday when we're old and gray, we'll still be two snickering friends plotting and planning, padded with lots of laughter.

If and when you read this Jennifer, I love you.  You have and always will be more than "just a cousin" pick your friends, family isn't a choice.  With you, I have the best of both worlds because you are family but you're also one of my best friends.  Thank you for always being laugh, to cry, to vent..or just sit in silence.  You are an amazing woman, mother and friend.


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