heresa as a baby. She was a beautiful blue eyed, blond haired baby girl and I remember her arrival distinctly because it screwed up my status as cherished only grandchild. We shared the love of our doting grandparents for the rest of their lives; there was always more than enough to go around. Other grand kids followed, but we were the first two and the closest.
My being two years and eleven months older rankled her when we were small. When she was ten I was just about to become a "teenager" and she was still a 'baby'. When she was thirteen I was working on my drivers license and looking forward to a first date, but she was still a 'baby'. I taunted her with the "you're still a baby" thing till our age shift put the ball in her court. When I turned forty she was still in her thirties because I was two years and eleven months older. When my first AARP invitation arrived she crowed about how old I was getting. When I turned sixty she referred to me as the "older woman"....and when I turned sixty five she was merciless with her comments about me becoming eligible for Medicare. We taunted, tormented and laughed a lot.
Countless weekends, long hot summers and every holiday we were together growing up. From playing in our grandmother's old wash house, through school and marriage and babies we stayed in touch. She was maid of honor in our wedding and came to stay the summer our first child was born. For years I would make the four hour trip the morning after Thanksgiving to pick her up; we simply had to make the Pilgrim Glass sale that was always held that day. Working our way through crowds and long check out lines, we'd eventually arrive back at her house exhausted, ready for leftovers and laughter. We really didn't need or want anything except the time together.
As the years went by we saw each other through funerals and births, the loss of parents, grandparents and relatives. Technology became helpful as pictures and texts made the distance seem shorter. Our day to day lives seemed a little closer although we always lived almost two hundred miles apart. Late night internet chats kept us in touch.
Over the years I seemed to have a constant stream of maladies and surgeries to talk about, while she had very few medical horror stories to share. She always jokingly said I'd had everything there was to have and she'd probably get everything all at the same time. She was right. A few months ago everything that could go wrong did, and the last six months of her life were very tough. Fighting as hard as she could, she could not come back from the things that had waited so long to attack her. She passed away November 24th.
If somehow she could read this, Theresa would be busy making changes and correcting me. I doubt there were more than an handful to times we ever agreed on the details of any story I set out to tell, and I was quick to interrupt and correct her when I remembered something differently. I'd say the dresses our grandmother made for us were red....she'd counter with no they were blue and she bought them; we never remembered anything the same way. She swore I tricked her into doing things she didn't want to do, I remembered her making up things to get me into trouble. No matter how old we got our "did not-did too" exchanges never changed. "I swear you must have had a different childhood!," I'd say as she laughed at me.
Now I find myself trying to wrap my head around the fact that she is gone, this cousin (two years and eleven months my junior) who was a mother, a grandmother, a daughter and sister, a realtor and a friend. There's only one word to describe how I feel...sad. It's not remembering the lifetime of happy memories that saddens me, but the empty place in my future that I always thought she would occupy. I know getting on with it is going to be a long work in progress, because we were friends all of her life...and I know I will miss her the rest of mine.
Life is Good....cherish it.