Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Thankful Project - Day 9

Today I'm linking up with Kenzie at Chasing Happy for Day 9 of her "Thankful Project".
Today's prompt is: a photo.

I'm thankful for this little photo of my cousin, Carrie.

For the three of you who read this and are not related to me, my cousin Carrie died eight years ago from complications of Hodgkins/large-cell lymphoma.  At the time, we had grown very close.  During my senior year of high school, I was her maid of honor.  She is the reason I met my husband (she was married to Jerry's brother).  And she's also part of the reason Jerry and I are together today.  We had dated briefly when I was in high school, but were not together when Carrie got sick in 2004.  But at her funeral, something changed and we realized that life is too short to go through it with the wrong person (we were both dating other people at the time).  It was a rough and very emotionally charged time.  When someone dies young, it's always tragic -- she left behind an almost 3 year old daughter, new husband, and an devastated family. 
Time doesn't heal that kind of wound, but it does dull the pain of loss.  I rarely cry when I think about Carrie now.  I think I cried pretty much constantly, starting from when we knew she wasn't going to make it, until well after her funeral.
So anyway, back to the photo.  When I got married, I wanted to find a way to remember and honor Carrie because she would have been there.  She would have been in my bridal party, would have stood there next to me when I made my promises to Jerry -- the guy that she never wanted me to date ;)
So I got a few mini photo frames (I think they are meant to go on charm bracelets) and had them tied into the ribbon on our bouquets.  When I danced with my Uncle Greg (Carrie's dad) he nodded toward my bouquet on the table, with the picture of Carrie facing up, and said "She's here today, you know." And I said "I know.  That's why it's such a beautiful day."
This little framed photo got put into a box after the wedding and has had many different homes since then.  One day we were going through our photos and keepsake boxes and Emily found the little photo.  She asked who it was and I told her it was Lana's mommy.  And she asked if she could keep it.  I told her she could and she put it in her treasure box.  We have other pictures of Carrie, so I wasn't really worried about losing it.  It's funny because I keep finding it everywhere; Emily will play with it and then put it down somewhere.  And I think about Carrie and how much she would love my kids, and how she might have had more kids, and how close we would be and what we would talk about, and just how very different life would be...

(Jeff has since remarried, and thankfully, to one of the most amazing women I've ever met.  Jennifer is truly the kind of person I think Carrie would have wanted to raise her daughter in her place, and I'm so glad that Jeff found her.)

So I'm thankful for this little photo and for all the times it turns up unexpectedly and reminds me of my beautiful cousin and how precious life really is.

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