On Wednesday morning of last week, after being delayed for two hours, our flight touched down in Minneapolis. I was tired, and looking forward to seeing my family. I turned my US phone on (I have a different phone I use while I am in the US), and sent a text message to my parents to let them know we had finally arrived. We still had to disembark and then go and pick up our rental car.
When I received the answer to my text, the whole trip changed in an instant. My parents were at my sister’s. My cousin, Dawn, had died.
Shock. Sadness. Frustration that I was stuck on the plane. Anger at my dad for being so blunt about how he broke the news. Gratitude for him not putting it off. Concern for my aunt. Disappointment that I hadn’t gotten to see Dawn again. All of it all at once.
Dawn and I shared a lot, especially early on. I guess that happens when your moms are twins and share a lot themselves. They got married on the same day in the same church. Dawn and I were born seven weeks apart. We were baptized on the same day in the same church. We celebrated our first birthdays together at our grandmother’s house.
We spent many a holiday playing together at Grandma’s house. We often got matching items for Christmas – dolls, pajamas, clothing. Our grandfather called us “twin cousins”. Together we read, and re-read, (and ruined from reading) my mother’s ElfQuest graphic novels, and then spent hours pretending we were elves. My little sister was in on that last bit, too.
Dawn and I went to summer camps together, including flying to Michigan (her first flight) for a two week camp the day after my grandfather (on the other side of the family) passed away.
I remember going to her house for one of her birthdays, and staying up all night with Dawn and her friends. The next day, I was so tired, I crashed after everyone left. My aunt woke us up at dinner, and I still couldn’t keep my eyes open. It was the best!
We shared many of the same interests. One summer I went with her to her grandparents’ farm in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota. We spent the week listening to the Monkees (the one record they had that even remotely interested us), and reading through the suitcase of Sweet Valley High books that she had brought. We both enjoyed going to ValleyCon, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, and we both enjoyed theater.
Even though we didn’t live in the same town, we could count on family gatherings to connect. And then we’d spend the whole time together. The distance grew in University, and especially when I got married and moved across the continent. But I always looked forward to seeing her.
I was looking forward to visiting her on this trip. I was planning to sit with her in the hospital and catch up. Instead, I ended up going to her funeral.
It hits really close to home because we were so close, the same age with so much in common. And I thought she was improving.
She leaves behind a three-year-old daughter, Brianna, who doesn’t fully understand that mommy is gone. I won’t go into that whole story here, however, Brianna needs our help. You can learn about her story here.
I love you and I miss you, Dawn.