Today, we remember two wonderful ladies who we were blessed to call part of our family: my aunt and my mom's cousin.
I was picked up from preschool by a friend's mom instead of my own mom. I was then dropped off at another friend's house to wait for my mom to pick me up there. I had no idea what was going on, but when my mom finally came to get me, I received news that I was definitely not expecting.
Every year on May 1st, I think about my aunt and wonder what life would have been like had she not passed away at such a young age. If she hadn't passed away, maybe my uncle wouldn't have moved away and taken my cousins from us. Maybe I would have continued to grow up with my two cousins and been best friends with them, as cousins should be. I think about the memories that I have of our few years together, though it's hard to recall everything from the time before preschool. I usually don't talk about it out loud, because I never know if my mom really wants to discuss it, but she knows that I remember the day.
Then last year, we received news that my mom's cousin passed away. I had just gone to bed, and I could hear my mom out in the living room. I checked Facebook before going to sleep, as I always do, and I saw something online that just didn't sit well with me. Someone had posted a heart to our cousin's page; someone else had posted an angel. I suddenly thought that something had happened to my mom's uncle, and braced myself for the worst. I never could have imagined that it was our cousin for whom the angel had been posted. I suddenly heard my mom on the phone with another cousin, and I just knew that something was wrong. I tip-toed out of my bedroom and back into the living room, waiting for my mom to be off of the phone. And when she got off, she tried to tell me that we'd talk about it in the morning, but I insisted. It was hard to go to sleep after that.
Our cousin believed in signs and angels and messages from above. It felt right that she left us on the same day as my aunt, as though she was giving us a sign that she was alright and was with family now... with not only my aunt, but with her sister and mother as well. And though we miss them all terribly, we can choose to think of them all in the warmth of each others' arms.
Now that we're living in Florida, I'm so happy that we get to see our cousin's family all of the time. We see them much more down here than we did when we all lived in New York. Her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren have made such an impact on all of our lives, and I love that her grandchildren and my siblings are so close. It makes me smile because I always wished that I could have seen my two cousins all of the time growing up, and this is kind of like a second chance for my siblings at least to know what it's like to grow up visiting family so much. It's a wonderful feeling.
I've also had the opportunity to meet my aunt's best friend, a great lady who has told me stories about my aunt that have brought a smile to my face. We haven't had the chance to see her in a while, but I hope to see her again soon. I'm so grateful to have been able to meet her after moving down here though, because it gave me another piece to the puzzle of my aunt's life. I felt like it brought me a little closer to her after meeting her best friend.
So today, even though I didn't discuss it, I thought about my aunt and our cousin, and remember what wonderful women they were. I'm so glad that I was able to call them both family while they were here with us.
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