When we were children, my cousin was scary. She was older than the rest of us and so she was stronger, faster, and smarter than all the little cousins put together. She would pull pranks on us and scare us tremendously. As my cousin grew up, she was a little on the wild side. Probably no wilder than most teenagers, nevertheless she frightened me. As a young woman, my cousin “Got right with God.” She became a strong church going woman and married a man from her local area. She had children and her life settled into an average married woman’s life. After a while, she divorced her first husband and married a second.
One day at work, I received a notice that my cousin’s adult daughter had been in an auto accident. She had been broadsided by an 18-wheeler. One wonders how she even survived. My cousin immediately gave up her employment and sat day and night at the hospital with her daughter. She prayed incessantly that her daughter would wake from her coma. Nearly a year later, she did. Unfortunately, her daughter must spend her days relearning life’s skills. My scary cousin now has custody of her daughter and her daughter’s young children. Life will never be the same for any of them.
Soon after her daughter and all of her daughter’s life functioning equipment came home, my cousin’s daddy fell ill. Within a very short time, my cousin’s daddy passed away. This was particularly tragic for her because she loved her daddy so deeply and because her burdens were increased unbelievably. With the death of her daddy, my cousin assumed the role as leader within her extended family. She now takes care of her disabled daughter, her disabled daughter’s very young children, her disabled mother, her ninety-eight year old grandmother, her nieces, and the mistakes and irresponsibility’s of her adult siblings. Her burdens are so heavy and so numerous, I don’t know how she carries them.
I attended her daddy’s funeral. It was a normal funeral with the usual prayers, music, and sermon from the preacher. During the funeral, my cousin walked up to the pulpit and spoke. To this day, I don’t know how she did it. With so many burdens, she spoke of her love for her daddy and their treasured experiences together. She spoke of the newly acquired responsibilities and burdens that she would now be called upon to bear. She was so vulnerable, so frail and yet so strong all at the same moment. In an instant, she went from scary cousin to superwoman. She pled with her siblings and her husband to help her with these burdens. As she spoke, I thought to myself, my cousin was still the strongest, the fastest, and the smartest of all the cousins put together. My heart was full and I was filled with appreciation and admiration for her.
Nearly three years has passed. This past week at church, my cousin shared her witness of God and her love of Christ. During her witness, she spoke of her dearly departed daddy, her disabled daughter, her very young grandchildren, her disabled mother, her ninety-eight year old grandmother, her irresponsible siblings, and her nieces. She called them blessings, not burdens.My name is Tracy Renee Lee. I am a funeral director, author and writer. It is my life's work to comfort the bereaved and help them live on.
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