Most people who read here regularly, and certainly those who know me, know that it’s been a tough couple of years when it comes to losing loved ones. Each loss was sad for me, and none more so than the loss of my Dad. At times it has been very tough to deal with, but I’ve done my best to keep on keepin’ on. I’m still hanging in there, and I haven’t lost my joy. (It was a little lost sheep for a while, but it found its way back...slowly, but surely.)
I mentioned yesterday that my family lost a dear relative this week. This was my cousin Erich, who was married to my blood cousin, Emma Jean. (Emma Jean and I recently realized that she is the oldest grandchild on our grandfather’s side, and I’m the youngest. It’s odd that I never knew that before.) Well, for all the loss that I’ve experienced in the past few years, here are the losses that my dear cousin has had to deal with: her oldest daughter, who was my age, to a brain tumor; her father to cancer and a stroke; her only sibling, her brother, to chronic kidney disease; her mother, to Alzheimer’s; my Dad, who was very close to both Emma Jean and Erich; and just two days ago, she returned from doing volunteer work at a school to find her husband, collapsed. He was already gone.
My heart breaks for my cousin, and of course for her entire immediate family. Emma Jean is truly one of the kindest, sweetest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. She has handled each loss with incredible grace and amazing strength, and although I know this might be her toughest mountain to climb, I don’t doubt that she will handle this one, as well. I’ve always admired her, both for her kindness and for her strength in the face of adversity. I’m glad we have some genes in common, because I’d like to think that I have that same strength...if not her sweetness and gentleness!
We all have our moments when we get discouraged, even sometimes feel outright despair. I’ve had those times myself, but I do my best to ride it out and get back to my usual cheery self, the person able to feel great happiness from even the little things in life. After Dad died, I remembered our talks about such things...not only that he didn’t want any of us to grieve overly long when he moved on, but how we both found so much pleasure in what many people would find mundane. An interesting bug, a cool-looking stick, a good book, a beautiful day. These are the things that ground me and get me back to where I need and want to be, and I hope that Emma Jean will once again rely on whatever it is that gets her to where she needs to be. In the future, if I am feeling down about a loss or a bad situation, I will think of her and hope that I can be as strong as she has been and continues to be. My petty problems seem small in comparison to what she has been through.
Amazingly enough, as I was writing this, I looked up to see a hummingbird on the front feeder—I hung both feeders yesterday, knowing that they’d be back soon. Sure enough, exactly one year to the day after they showed up last year, they are back. It’s little things like this that bring me such joy and let me know that the world keeps on keepin’ on...just like we all strive to do.