I can still remember the smell of the day. The day you taught me how to ride my bike. The day started off sunny. It was the beginning of fall, so it wasn’t too cold or too hot, it was just right. For my neighbors it was definitely a sight to see. An 8-year-old girl learning how to ride her two wheeled bike, that doesn’t happen very often. The weeks before my relentless parents tried time and time again to get me to ride this bike all by myself and that just wasn’t happening, until the weekend that you came down and refused to go home until I was riding that bike all by myself. You were the only one who could tolerate my tantrums. You spent all day with me and now you’re gone.
I tell people all the time that my cousin was the best cousin anyone could ask for. Actually wait, she was more than that; she was the best sister anyone could ever want. My family and I are very closer. Uncles and Aunts are more like second moms and dads. Cousins are more like brothers and sisters, and grandparents were indescribable. I had the picture perfect family until June 1, 2010.
I heard you were sick but I didn’t realize it was this bad. I didn’t realize that in a week of you first entering the hospital that you would never return to us again. That whole week was a blur. I remember going to school and then making the drive up to Temple Hospital where I stayed until the nurses kicked me out. You had tubes and IVs coming out of you from every part of your body imaginable. The medicine made you so bloated that I couldn’t recognize the girl lying in the bed. The medicine made you sleepy so most of the time I was there you didn’t know. But the very last time I saw you awake was the Wednesday before you left, and in that moment I knew you were ready to leave. The summer of 2010 we had so much planned. My sweet 16 was coming up, I could drive by myself, we could have sleepovers all the time but none of that happened.
Family events were always so much fun with you around. I remember your college graduation party at the one hall where we have all of our family parties, you and my dad spent a little too much time at the bar that night but being around you was so much fun. When you weren’t joking around with all of our little cousins you were on the dance floor celebrating this huge accomplishment. Not only did you double major throughout your college years but you also worked full time at a nursing home. Not only was I proud of you but the whole entire family was.
Starting at a young age you were nothing but a role model to me. Each and every day I woke up, I wanted to be like you. Your driven and caring personality attracted so many people. You had a smile that lit up a room. You put others before yourself each and every day. I would love when you would babysit my brother and I because we always ordered food for dinner. I would get chicken parm and you would get eggplant parm, then we would order ravioli’s for Tim. You would always take us out to the mall and play in the pool or jump on the trampoline with us. The few times where we would make the journey to Jersey to stay the night at your place, you and I would hop in your car and make road trips all over. The one time you took me to the place where this cute guy worked and we spent an hour in this pool store. The best part about the whole trip was you acted like you had a pool the whole time just as an excuse to talk to him. I guess you did a good job because a few months later, you two were dating and we no longer referred to him as the pool guy but as your boyfriend.
We had so many great and fantastic memories with you and I think that’s what makes it so hard. You left this world at 23 years young, not old. You still had so much to live for and experience that it’s so hard to wrap my head around this situation.
June 1, 2010
I was finishing up my final project for English. This book was filled with poems that were about you. I heard the phone ring and didn’t think anything of it until I heard my dad’s voice tone change. I eased dropped on the conversation him and my mom were having.
“Let’s drop Tim off at the Meloro’s, he won’t be able to handle it” said my mom after that phone call ended. I knew that the time was now. My parents came down the stairs and I can remember exactly what they said like it was yesterday.
“She is worse, and it’s not looking good. We have to get up there as soon as we can.”
I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or throw up. But what I did know is that this night would be the longest day of my life.
My dad was flying up 95. The trip from my house to the hospital usually took us about 30 minutes to travel took us 15 this time. You were on the ICU floor, which has one room for family members to sit and wait in. Well that room is meant for multiple families and our family decided to take up the full room to ourselves. We walked through the double automated doors to the ICU and by the look on everyone’s faces you were not going to get any better.
I hesitantly walked into your room to find you not only on three new machines but lifeless. Everyone in your room at that moment left in respects of us. I didn’t want anyone to interrupt our last moments together. I managed to squeeze my body up on the bed next to yours. I held your hand and laid on you till I couldn’t cry any more tears. The rest of the family came in and I told you I loved you for the last time. While the doctors told us that you were out of it I knew you heard me because you squeezed my hand back. Within an hour you were officially gone. We tried to keep you here on this earth with us for as long as we could but we could tell that you were ready to leave.
The days that followed were a blur. The whole family was numb, emotionless and exhausted. Planning your funeral seemed to go smoothly. It’s weird picking out a casket. The people tell you that “this is made with the best material” and all of this nonsense but does it really matter at that point, you’re already gone.” The funeral lasted two days. The viewing was on a Thursday night and the funeral and burial on Friday. Even though Friday was technically the longer of the two, Thursday night seemed to drag on for hours upon hours. I was so tired and exhausted from the past week, seeing people cry didn’t help. These people would come up to me giving me the biggest and tightest of hugs telling me over and over again that they’re “sorry for my loss.” An hour into the viewing everyone seemed to look the same and I could of cared less about meeting new people.
It has been six years since you went away and they have been a very long six years. I still have the urge to call you to tell you every new and exciting thing that happens in my life. There is so many times where I break down and cry because I know you won’t be here for my college graduation, wedding or the birth of my first child. But when I get real upset I just think back to the time where you taught me how to ride my bike by myself, or the times where we would sit at my kitchen table for hours eating chicken and eggplant parm, or when we would just drive around for the hell of it. There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t miss you but I know that you’re still lighting up the world with that wonderful smile of yours.
Love your cousin/sister
PS. Tell the other two we miss them just as much