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A "Thank You" to My Friends

By CatholiKitty ~

I've been meaning to write this to you all for a while now.

It's been almost two months since my cousin passed away. The only deaths I had experienced before this one had been my grandfather's, the unexpected death of a close friend's father, and a few pets'. Nothing I had been through had prepared me for my cousin's death, and only now, as I write this, does it finally feel real to me. I'm going to get into the heart-breaking details in the next paragraph. They're relevant, but I'll sum them up in the section after that, so please feel free to jump to the *** and skip the sad stuff.

Forget-me-not flowers. Türkçe: Unutma beni çiç...Forget-me-not flowers. Türkçe: Unutma beni çiçekleri. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My cousin had gotten married in 2008. About a year and a half later, her husband luckily found a spot on the top of her head; it was melanoma. For the next one-and-a-half to two years she got treated, obtained remission, got worse, went on a clinical trial, and finally died from the illness at the age of 27 (and less than a month from her birthday). During all this, she managed to finish her last year of pharmaceutical degree. Also during the ordeal, right until the end, I believed that she would fully recover because cancer was the type of thing that happened to other people. This line of thinking has never done me any good.

It might be a southern thing, but I've been told that cousins in my family are as close as siblings in some other families; I was certainly close to this cousin. Her nuclear family has always lived down the street from me. She was three years older than me, and her brother (8 months older than me) was my best friend until middle school (6th grade), so I have a lot of childhood memories of the three of us. Of the eleven cousins, she was the kindest one, the sweetest one, the one that always smiled (not eulogy talk; I've thought the same while she was alive). In retrospect, she was also a strong and determined person.

***Wow, I needed to get that out. To sum: She was an amazing person, I was close to her, and her death was both drawn-out and unexpected for me. Now, on to why I'm posting this on an ex-Christian site.

My cousin's family was much more observant towards Catholicism than mine. They always said prayers together at meals and before bed. When the end was in sight, they held a prayer service at a local church, and the guests nearly filled the pews. Venue aside, it was nice to see so many people that my cousin had affected gather together to support her and each other. We prayed the Rosary, and the pace let me fall into a nice, light trance.

My first "thank you" is about the prayer. Thanks to ya'll, I had already examined my thoughts about prayer and decided that expecting a response in this kind of situation was pointless. I didn't think that the mass (ha) of people had cast a divine spell over our ailing friend. I didn't have to deal with the crushing despair of disappointment adding to the sadness when she passed away the next morning.

The wake was a few days later. A small room stuffed with family standing around, friends of hers passing through, and an open casket in the back. Her husband handled himself so well that I was at a loss for how to talk to him. I was staring off at a wall at one point, and one of my aunts, the most "Christian" of us all and the one who isn't above suspecting demons causing foul play, came up to me with what I assumed was supposed to be a reassuring smile. She asked me, "Just trying to figure it all out, huh?" I paused just a bit and said, "There’s not much to figure out at this point."

My big "THANK YOU" is about that exchange. I didn't spend the days between the death and funeral wrestling with why God would take away someone like my cousin but leave other cancer patients. I already believed that cancer had killed my cousin and that doctors were just able to save other patients. She had died too soon, but that’s something that happens, and I was able to make peace with it before I even went to the wake.

I don't think that I would have blamed anyone; I would have probably come to the same conclusions that I hold to now, or so I like to hope. The big point is that I was able to reach those conclusions on my own time largely do to this site and the people here that share their stories and discuss issues of faith. I thank you all because I didn't have to suffer through both a crisis of faith and the loss of Lauren.