I’ve lived in Charlotte, North Carolina for over five years now, and I’ve often mentioned that my mother’s family lives a short two hours away in Rockingham. I haven’t visited Rockingham in years, and now I’m regretting it.
Yesterday, my cousin Ann died suddenly and without warning.
It appears that she may have died in her sleep, while sitting in a hospital room visiting a loved one. On the plus side, this would lead us to believe that she went peacefully and without pain. Of course, none of this changes the fact that our family member is dead, and we’re all very shocked by the news.
On a selfish note, I feel guilty as hell. I’m so near to them, but haven’t seen many of them at all since moving here. My Aunt Sue, mother of the late Cousin Ann, has stopped by a few times while she was in Charlotte for work. Cousin Wendy stopped in for a few minutes once while running an errand this way, introducing me to her daughter while she was at it. And that’s about it.
It sounds silly, but at least there’s Facebook. My mom’s side of the family has been adding me as Facebook friends for the last year or so, and I’ve been keeping in touch with some of them fairly regularly. I’ve talked to Ann, and her sister Donna, a couple of times about them coming to visit me — but we never made it happen.
It’s sad that it takes a funeral to get me to drive back to Rockingham. I’m disappointed in myself for not having made more of an effort while I’ve been so near. I feel like a bad cousin and nephew. Like a bad person.
I’m upset that Ann never got to meet Sal or Puck. And I’m angry with myself for letting my assumptions about Southern people’s religious beliefs deter me from seeing my biological family and introducing them to my chosen family.
I’ll miss you, Ann. Thank you for loving me ever since I was a little kid. Thank you for reaching out and getting back in touch recently, and for all the Facebook comments. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for being my family.