My cousin died unexpectedly two years ago. He was just shy of his 37th birthday. He’d lived a hard, brief life, and most of us still struggle to say his name today with crying. One of his great joys were his children. He had two young daughters with a beautiful woman.
The girls and their mama live on the east coast, close to her family. I haven’t seen them in more than six years, and they have grown in leaps and bounds. I keep up with them through their mom and her generosity; she doesn’t have to share the details of their childhoods with me, but she chooses to. I know it is hard for her to talk about their father, but she does. She send me his poems on occasion when she runs across them in the house.
I don’t have a large family. My cousin’s death left a hole. Maintaining a relationship with his daughters is important to me, in part because my Aunt Karen did so from afar with me. My dad’s much younger siblings lived on the east coast and on occasion would come to Arizona for Mexican food and a dip in the pool. My Aunt Karen made a point of writing me long letters on yellow legal pad paper, even when she was in college on a basketball scholarship and I’m sure had other things she’d rather be doing.
Today, I consider her a friend and someone I admire greatly. She, nor her mother — my grandmother Astra — let the distance be a barrier for having a relationship.
I added some cactus fabric to these valentine pouches for the girls because I want them to always know there are many who love them in Arizona.
Family is often not easy. We don’t chose the branches of our genetic trees, but we can look beyond the political and religious differences and be loving. I’ve got a good example of how to do that.