I got news today that upset me for more than one reason. I found out that my cousin Eric Huizenga (first cousin once removed) who I have not seen since he was probably 5, and is now 33, was involved in the horrible tornado that effected a friend of mine in Tuscaloosa last month. He and his wife and 2 of their 4 daughters were at home when the tornado hit their home. They were all lifted and thrown 500 feet into a ravine.
Eric's wife Jodie, 28, died. The oldest daughter has a broken pelvis. The middle two girls were not home, and the youngest, aged 3 suffered 2 collapsed lungs and a head injury. She is out of ICU but still hospitalized. Eric, 33, had 3 broken ribs, a broken knee, and LOTS of internal bleeding due to damage to his spleen, liver and gallbladder. He just started a new job, but didn't have insurance yet. They just moved into this house a month ago, were renting, and didn't have renter's insurance. He will likely be in the hospital for weeks. His parents, my cousins Tom and Shelia, are apparently living in a small FEMA trailer with the surviving daughters.
I also found out another cousin of mine has advanced prostate cancer.
The thing is, I don't even know these people. The cousin with cancer I know a little bit better; I think I would at least recognize him on the street. I have not seen any of my other extended family for years. Probably like 8 or 9 years. I wouldn't recognize half of my aunts, uncles or cousins if I passed them on the street. How sad is that?
I have very few extended relatives because my mom's older sister married my dad's older brother, and my dad's other brothers either died young or had no children. But we never talk. What is up with that? It's not my doing...it's like we just stopped getting together...I was just a kid...and now no one knows anyone else. This tornado was almost a month ago, and we just found out now?
There are other people in my life that are LIKE family. They much closer than family. So whomever you choose to hold close, LOVE them dearly. Cherish them. Encourage them. Tell them they look beautiful or handsome. Let them know why you love them and how much you love them and that you would never want to live without them. Why wouldn't you? What do you have to lose? Except love.
Cherish. It can all be over in a blink of an eye. Don't let anything go unsaid. Life is too short.