It is easy to take family for granted. That your mom will call every morning to check in. That your Auntie Deb who sends you Mallowcreme Pumpkins every Halloween will always get the sugar in the mail. That your niece out in California will always melt your heart when she calls you 'The Mom', instead of Auntie Kirsten. That your Uncle John is consistently able to charm a roomful of people, and then when saying goodbye will always sidle up to the dishwasher and say 'oh Honey, leave that, I'll do it when I get back.' That your Aunt Karen makes the best roast beef in all of creation - seriously, you remember it from when you were 8 years old. That your brother & his wife would be delighted to see you if you should call in the morning & ask if they want visitors in say, 2 hours.
What I took for granted most recently was that I would have the chance to invite my cousin Ben over for a movie night. That I would seize on the fact that he lived less than 5 miles away, and get him over here for a dinner or something. Right after I got this nose wiped, that dishwasher unloaded, this kid picked up from a friend's house.
And then on Tuesday I got the news that Ben had died in the night. Very suddenly, very unexpectedly. And just like that, all of the chances are gone.
So with a heavy heart, I prepare for the funeral tomorrow. I believe very much in the Ecclesiastical version of a 'Season for All Things', but I don't believe that there is ever a season for parents to bury their children. As a mother, my heart will break for my Aunt Karen and Jim, and for Larry Rochester & his wife. My heart will break for my cousins, Ben's brothers & sister, as they hug their kids tight and mourn the loss of sharing those kids' lives with Ben. My heart will break for my dad & his brother, as they mourn for their nephew who was so gentle, so funny, so smart. And in my own small way, my heart will break for me, for this week I lost a cousin. A cousin I didn't see enough, didn't know well enough, but yet knew so well he was a literal part of my life's fabric. And now, always, there will be a hole.