This past year and a half has been one of the most emotional rides of my life and if I learned one thing it’s this: you never know what awaits and you never know just who or what is going to impact your life.
I want to focus on two moments that changed everything for me this past year and half. One that turned out to be one of the happiest memories of my life and one that turned out to be one of the hardest and saddest days of my life. At the end, I’ll explain how they intersect and how ultimately the good began to outweigh the bad. When someone asks me “do you want to hear the good news first or the bad news first?” I usually respond with the bad so we can move on from it and that’s what we’re going to do here.
This past May — May 4th to be exact — my cousin Andrea passed away. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with and it was the saddest I’d ever been at a family member passing away. She was more of a sister to me than a cousin and there are memories I have with her where I just can’t help but smile from ear to ear. She was one of the kindest and most loving individuals I have ever had the pleasure of knowing and it is the most horrible feeling in the world knowing that I’ll never be able to speak to her again.
I remember getting the phone call from my mom and collapsing to the floor. I ran back to my room with my saxophone on my back (I was attending a rehearsal that day) and immediately ran into the arms of friends with tears running down my face. Two of my best friends at school, Karl and Zach, were more than helpful to me throughout the day to cheer me up but there was one other person in particular who helped me just as much through it and she is someone who has an impact on my life that I could never have imagined.
Her name is Heather and I met her just a little over a year ago. It was a chance meeting; two people being in the right place at the right time, as I like to think of it. She was sitting in the hall and I was passing by. A simple conversation exchange was all it took and before we knew it we were the closest of friends. Eventually, through months of ups and downs, tough moments, laughs and a whole lot of near misses, the inevitable happened. We finally realized what apparently all of our friends did way back in the fall: we should be together and so we got together.
Who knows how different things would have been if I hadn’t seen her in the hall that day? That single moment was the catalyst that gave me an amazing friendship and an even more amazing relationship. She was there for me when my cousin passed and comforted me the entire day to make sure I was doing well.
Now I’ll bring this to present day. In the months that have followed Andrea’s passing my relationship with Heather has blossomed into something that gives me a reason to smile each and every day. Has it gotten easier to deal with the death of my cousin? Yes and no. It still hurts and honestly I don’t think it will ever stop hurting. She wasn’t supposed to be gone this early. We had so many more things we had to do. She was supposed to be at my college graduation and she was supposed to be at my wedding just as I was at hers.
I leave you all with this: Call your family. Tell them you love them and don’t be afraid to take a weekend or two to visit home. Thanksgiving break is coming up for us all so go enjoy the time spent with loved ones because you never know what life is going to throw at you. Also: don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith and go down a new path just because you don’t know what’s ahead. What’s ahead could be a journey with someone or something you never imagined. Have a great break everyone.