I was scrolling through Facebook yesterday and saw it. A post that said my cousin, Heidi, had passed away.

Suddenly I feel like the little girl I was when I knew her most. When we sat in church together in Corona, California. When we spent the day riding all the slides at Raging Waters in San Demas and she had to remember to take her pills so she could eat when it was time. She was fun and funny, a bit mischievous, always with bright eyes and a big smile.

I remember always worrying and wondering when she was going to die. She was born with Cystic Fibrosis and her sister Nikki, whom I barely remember, died when she was five.

She is actually my second cousin and her dad is my first cousin, although he has always felt more like an uncle to me. He and his wife Sharon are those wonderful people who give big hugs, listen better than most and make you feel like you are loved when you are talking to them. They make you feel loved even if you only see them once every ten years.

Facebook is an interesting thing, it allows you to journey life people you don’t ever see anymore and it connects you with those who you love but have long ago lost contact with. For me, that is my dad’s side of the family. I moved away when I was eighteen and never really came back other than scattered holidays. The Hanson side of my family are so much fun. There is a lot of them, they are all so very different but love each other because of, in spite of and regardless of.

I miss them.

When my Grandmother was alive, we got together often and had big loud family holidays complete with all us young-ins running around together in the Southern California sun.

Now we are all married with children and I have been living my life apart from them for most of that time. Except that I haven’t. I watched and read, commented and liked, prayed and rejoiced with them as Heidi had a lung transplant last year.

She wrote this beautiful book which made me feel like I was right there with her once again and she was tagged in countless pics showing that big smile and bright eyes.

Then the posts that begun a few weeks ago – the ones saying she has pneumonia and couldn’t breath, I began to earnestly pray. As the news came that she was on life support, I worried. And every day, I searched FB for information. Why didn’t I just call?

I think because for the most part, I feel like a stranger and observer. I am a cousin but distant at most and disconnected at least. I don’t want to bother or add to their stress but I prayed and wondered and worried all the same.

I was still surprised when I saw the status update from another cousin yesterday. I was still shocked. I am still shocked. Because no matter how much you wonder or worry or hope or pray- death is always a surprise. It is always a shock. And whether you knew someone or knew of someone, a part of you grieves their loss.

I am very sad and find myself felling like a little girl who has lost her friend.

Knowing that she is breathing free and clear in heaven is a priceless comfort. That she is healed and rejoicing in the presence of the Lord and Savior that she knew, depended on and worshipped here while she was with us.

All who knew her will miss her until we meet her there.


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