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Losing another cousin

Susan Hodges Payne Cosner Demitry.

13 July 1954. 15 November 2014.


What can I begin to say about those years?

How do I begin to say goodbye?

How do I begin to describe the twinkling eyes, the bright smile, the contagious laugh, the love of home and family that so marked her years on this earth?

How do I begin to recount the many kindnesses she did for so many people? Just as one example, how she — then a breast cancer survivor — took the second shift and came and stayed with me after my own breast cancer surgery when my sister had to get back to her family and job.

How do I begin to come to terms with the loss of someone who is so much a part of my own history?

Daughter of my mother’s sister. My first cousin. And, as in so many families, among the first and best and closest of childhood friends — and childhood foes.

Just close enough in age to be a frequent playmate — and co-conspirator in all the trouble kids can get into.

Just far enough apart in age to be frequently at each other’s throats: “but Mom, she’s too young to…” on my side; “but Mom, she won’t let me…” on hers.

We played together. We picked blackberries together. We gathered in tomatoes from our grandmother’s garden together. We closed ranks against cousins younger or older, as the winds of change blew.

And we fought together. Oh, how we fought. We fought about who got the last piece of cinnamon toast on a summer morning. Or who got to sit by the window on the car ride. Or whose bouquet of fresh-picked wildflowers (and weeds) was better. Or anything else that happened to present itself at any given moment in time as a source of competition or annoyance.

We grew apart at times in our lives. And we grew together as time went on and all the things that seemed to have divided us when we were younger were revealed as so much less important in the long run than all the things that brought us together.

The joys we shared over the years. The pains we shared. The cares, the concerns, the laughter, the tears.

Our battles with cancer, which I so far have won and which, yesterday, she lost.

Right down to our shared maternal H3g mitochondrial DNA, our family — our love for this big bold brash group of people we call kin — is what we shared most of all.

And that big bold brash group of people is smaller today.

Less bold.

Less brash.

And much diminished.

Rest in peace, dear cousin.

You are so very much loved… and will be so very much missed.

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