Earlier this week my cousin Mary passed away from an aneurysm. She just turned 52 in December, and leaves behind two sons, the youngest of whom is an eight grader.
It is sad, tragic even, but I can tell you this: The world is a better place because Mary was in it. She was a kind, generous, loving person who made a difference, and I know she will be missed by many.
My family and Mary's family lived in the same small town, so we all knew each other growing up, though Mary was quite a bit older than me. I remember lots of things about her, but one story stands out for me.
When I was six years old, I got the flu and wound up in the hospital. Mary, who was 17 or 18, came to visit me. I remember her sitting on the bed playing Go Fish with me. I realize now that she had a lot of other things she could be doing besides entertaining her six-year-old cousin. But that's just who Mary was. She had a generous spirit, and she genuinely cared about people.
I come from a large family and an even larger extended family. This is the first relative I've lost since my grandma passed away in 1999. We are blessed with longevity, and when your parents and aunts and uncles are living well into their eighties, it's easy to forget that life can be short.
I've been reading Mary's Facebook page, and there are many regrets there: phone calls not made, concerts not attended, words unsaid.
Make that call. Throw caution to the wind and go to that concert. Say what is on your heart. Because you never know if today will be your last.
Rest in peace, Mary, and I know you'll be watching over us.