For my cousin (137)


Almost everyone has them.

If you are lucky, you get to know them really well.

I’ve been thinking a lot about cousins lately.  You are raised by siblings, or at least, a set of siblings contributed to your DNA.  You and your cousins share 1/8 of the same genetic material.  Not a whole lot, but just enough.

My husband knows his cousins on one side but doesn’t know his cousins on the other.  I love his cousins.  They have treated me like family, and I am grateful for their love.

I never grew up with my cousins.  The closest cousins always lived 2000 or more miles away.  I would see them maybe every 4-12 years.  For most of my life, I didn’t speak the same language as most of my cousins, and to be honest, I don’t know a lot of their names.  I blame the language barrier for that one.  I always envied the relationship some people have with their cousins.

In my teenage years and young adulthood, I had some neighbors that had close cousins.  They would include me in some of their family parties, and so while I didn’t get to know the cousins as they did, I was able to see them interact.  I have to admit to being a little envious of their relationship with their cousins.

My neighbors lost their cousin in a tragic accident this past week, not even one mile away from my home.  I can’t drive past the intersection without thinking of him, of his wife, his children, his mom, his dad, his brother, his aunts, his uncles, his in-laws, and his cousins.  It overwhelms me to the point that I try to avoid the intersection if I can.  I feel indescribable sadness for their loss.  But since the accident, I have been able to watch from a distance how they have chosen to comfort each other.  They share their memories.  They joke they praise, they remember.

I have four American cousins.  I attended two of their weddings, and two of them attended mine.  One of those cousins that made the 2000 mile trip to see me on my wedding day was recently diagnosed with cancer.  He still needs to have cancer removed, then he has to fight through radiation and chemotherapy.  Even after the cancer is removed and he is healed, he will still have to live with the harsh changes that it has wrought in his body.

My heart aches for him, for my uncle, my aunt, for his brother and sister-in-law, and his nephews.  I am so far removed, I feel helpless.  I cannot be there to comfort them.  I cannot bring them meals.  I cannot make life any easier for them.  But I want to.  I want to help.

So, I did what I do best.  I made a quilt.

Sometimes you hear that a quilt is “stitched with love.”  Only after I have made a quilt specifically for someone have I understood that process.  I have found that it takes me 30 or more hours to make a quilt.  In the case of a quilt like this, that means that I spend 30 hours thinking about a person.  While you plan the quilt, you are thinking about them.  While you cut the fabric, you are thinking about them.  When you sew the seams, press the seams, arrange the fabric, you are thinking about them.  When you are placing the pins to baste the quilt, when you run the quilt through the machine hundreds of times, when you cut, sew, and add the binding to the quilt, your thoughts are with that person.  Love is sewn in there, somewhere, and hopefully, that love is felt in a tangible way when they receive it.

I used minky (a very bright green minky) because my neighbor who just overcame thyroid cancer said that minky was the best for her skin.  This minky honestly feels as soft as a baby rabbit.

I hope to ship this quilt to my cousin by the end of this week.  I’ll pack the box with messages of love from all of my family, and I’ll also fill it with hope and prayer that it will be helpful in the recovery and healing process…

…So that one day, we can make more memories.

For my cousin, I love you and I’m thinking of you.

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