Every year, as summer begins, I slip into a serious funk. Working gets harder, I catch myself nagging more often, and even though I have a hard time peeling myself out of bed I can never find that nice deep sleep that lets you wake up feeling rested. As June warms up and everyone’s vacations start, I step back and begin to ponder things like where my life is headed and what my place in the world is and whether I’m really being my best self (none of which leads to me feeling warm fuzzies) and before I know it I haven’t left the house in four days and I’m canceling plans with friends so I can stay home to hang out with Rachel, Monica, Phoebe, Ross, Joey, and Chandler.
This happens every single year. And, every single year, I forget that it happens every single year.
And then June 27th comes and it’s my cousin’s birthday and all of a sudden I remember that she’s supposed to be turning my age except her whole story line stopped at nineteen. That one night it was Memorial Day weekend and we were on the phone for hours making the rest-of-our-lives plans that we always made and then the next day there was a traffic incident and now I keep getting older without her. That every year of my life, Memorial Day will roll around and people will share pictures of caskets on Facebook and demand that we all think about those we’ve lost (suggesting that if we’re enjoying our barbecues we must be horrible people) and the next thing I know it’s her birthday and I’ve spent Memorial Day to June 27th with my life on hold because I. Just. Can’t.
And I tell you with absolute certainty that it gets better on June 28th and that by next summer I will have forgotten all about this and when I can’t peel myself out of bed I’ll start googling things like, “Is post-partum depression possible two years after you’ve had the baby?”
I could stay in my funk and focus on that weird empty spot where I used to have a cousin. I could stay in bed and not want to do things because I can’t do them with her and I could put our pictures all over my house and walk around feeling like nobody else will understand me. I could even shut everyone else out, resent Kyle and the kids because they never knew her, pour myself a glass of whiskey and put TLC on repeat because first my cousin and then Left Eye and seriously how does one even go on in a world this horrible.
I don’t do this, of course.
What I do instead is wake up every day feeling the full weight of the extra 24 hours I have that she didn’t get. Sometimes it makes me sad, but often it makes me feel things like gratitude and wonder and joy. I refuse to miss any of this because she’s missing it. That would be the height of stupid. If we were flipped and she was frozen with Netflix and ennui because I was gone, I would come back to leave creepy bathroom steam mirror messages telling her to get off her butt because that fun isn’t going to have itself and heaven knows we only have so much time.
The last thing my cousin taught me was that these are my minutes. I can’t give them to her, but I can use them well as long as I have them. So, I don’t argue as much when it won’t matter. I don’t spend as much time wondering what people are thinking of me. I try to stop myself from nagging my kids and I don’t pick fights over little things with a husband that I am damn lucky to have. And, yes, I miss her and when I miss her I really let myself miss her, but I try not to get stuck in that angry spiral of how unfair it is that she didn’t turn 32 today.
It is what it is. I miss her. I woke up missing her, realized the date, exhaled, and mentally shook off my June funk. And then Kyle and I took the kids up the canyon because life is short and beautiful and if Kellie had to pick between me crying all day because I miss her or me spending intentional time with my family because I miss her, I know which way she’d go.