About a week ago I was so excited about September. Freshly back from Florida, I was loving the dry heat, new direction and energy in my business and making some big changes here at home.
When I went to the grocery store to restock my fridge with real food I picked up a beautiful blue hydrangea on sale.
Now hydrangeas are probably my favorite flower and I only get them on clearance because I kill them waaaaay too quickly to pay full price. I brought it home, plopped it in a container and set it on my desk. It made me smile.
In fact, last Saturday I was at my desk recording an interview with a colleague in the UK, loving how this little flower brightened up my desk. After the interview I went to tell my mom, who was visiting for the weekend, that we could go shopping!
Instead I found her sobbing into the phone in my kitchen. My worst fear wasn’t true, my grandpa was okay. But my never-imagined-this-could-be-true fear was worse. My healthy, active, joyful, 26 year old cousin had died in his sleep.
It just… didn’t make any sense. Still doesn’t. He was a football player, hunted and fished all the time, spent 4 years in the Navy serving our country, completed the fire academy, was training to be a surgical technician…. nothing that would point to him being remotely sick.
I thought of his precious and precocious 2 year old daughter who didn’t know that “Daddy’s sleeping!” wasn’t true. He wasn’t ever going to wake up.
I cried a lot last weekend. When the grocery store clerk said “how are YOU today?” in a chipper voice, when I thought of facing my birthday without my cousin to share it with, when I saw his daughter running around playing unaware of the adults sobbing around her.
Sunday night I got back home in the early afternoon, drained, exhausted and still in shock. I had an armful of photo albums to scan so we could share pictures at his service. When I sat down to scan them at my desk I could see my hydrangea had wilted. 5 days without water will do that to a plant. Especially one on life support already.
So I emptied my water bottle into the soil and started scanning. About 200 pictures and 2 Amazon streaming movies later I looked up. Amazed, I realized that the hydrangea and perked right up and looked great!
And I started to cry.
Because all it took was a little water to bring that plant back from certain death. So simple. So easy to fix. And now, even days later, we have no idea why my cousin died. What happened to his body.
And it hurts way more than I ever thought possible, even after losing two grandparents to disease and old age. This hurts more.
Justin was my first birthday present, born on the day I turned one. You know how I feel about my birthday already.
In just under 3 weeks I’ll be turning 28 and he won’t turn 27. And that makes me cry, even more than the little sad blue hydrangea.