Life is precious

If I have learned anything in the past two and a half months, it’s that life is so precious.
Love the people around you as hard as you can.
Love your friends and your family and the people you pass every day on the street.

I don’t particularly like death. I know, I know, who does? But even fictional deaths have me in tears. A character in a movie dies? I’m crying. A character in a book dies? I’m in tears for pages and pages. An integral character in a tv show dies? At least twenty minutes. So when a person I know in real life dies, I’m a complete mess.

My Grandma Henshaw died when I was seven. I don’t have a lot of memories of her, and no memories at all before Alzheimer’s took her. I remember always being told how much she loved me though. My Mom has always told me that whenever we would visit, her face would light up. She didn’t know who I was, but she knew she loved me. I wish we could’ve really known each other.
My Great-Grandma Marian died when I was eleven. At the time we lived in Virginia, but I spent that summer visiting friends and family in the Pacific Northwest. At the beginning of my trip I visited Grandma Marian (as I always referred to her) with my Granny and Grandpa (my Dad’s Dad and step-Mom). It was the first time I had seen her in years and years – I know I remembered visiting her before then, but I can’t remember it anymore. At the end of my trip, literally a week or two before I was set to head back home, she died. My Dad flew out for the funeral. I was homesick by the end of my trip and I begged him to take him back with me on the C-130. My cousin Larie and I sat together at the service. I cried a lot. Butterflies always remind me of Grandma Marian.

The first death that I really remember, that really affected me, was Kiana.
I went to a very small high school. The students were really close to each other and we were really close to our teachers. My Junior year, Kiana died. She was the 8 year old daughter of one of our teachers. I never knew her healthy – literally one of my first memories ever in my high school was of Katherine babysitting Kiana and her sisters after one of Kiana’s last chemo treatments (of that round). She was playing with a Barbie car she received from the Make-a-Wish foundation and wearing a pink sequined hat.
I had a really hard time with God after Kiana died. After she got sick again, I prayed every night. Every single night I prayed that God would heal her. I have NEVER prayed as hard as I did after she got sick again. She was the happiest child I’ve ever met. I never saw her without a smile, even after she got really sick and was in the wheelchair. I never could understand why God would take her. Why He would let such an evil, evil disease would steal such an amazing person.
Kiana was the first time cancer stole someone from my life. I’ll never forgive it. Cancer is an evil, evil disease. I hate it down to my very being.

I’ve known more people who have died in the past two and a half months than I have my entire life previous to June. I know I wasn’t close to Matt and Jen. Is it wrong of me to be thankful for that? As many tears as I’ve shed for Barbara and Ari, I don’t think I could handle shedding that many again. I feel so crass saying that.

Life is so precious.
Love everyone around you. Love those you know and love those you pass on the street. Everyone is loved by someone and everyone is missed by someone. Love everyone.

Rest in peace, Barbara McDaniel, Matt Daughtery, Ari Morgan, and Jen Womack.
I pray I won’t have to add anyone else to that list.

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