On May 1, my family lost a relative. Not a grandparent or great uncle or aunt, but a cousin. Cousin-in-law to be exact, but we don’t like labels. When someone marries into our family, they receive automatic cousin status – no questions asked.
That was certainly the case with Anne. She married my cousin, C, 22 years ago. I was just a kid when they met and married, but I remember being so, so excited to have another cousin in the family. She was a pure spark of smiles and laughs; always interested in what was going on in my boring eight-year-old (ish) life. Likeability was never a problem with Anne; everyone liked her. Loved her.
At every family event she’d enter the room with her signature smile and “helllllo!” After hugs, she’d always ask how I was doing, what I was doing, and listen to whatever answer I offered. She’d laugh and share stories, listen to mine, and provide encouragement in everything I did. Even after she had her first child (cue all the excited childhood Megan smiles), and then her second, third, and fourth, she always took time for me.
And I knew, from the minute I met her, that we were kindred spirits. While I couldn’t predict it as a kid, I somehow knew we’d share the same joys of petiteness (aka shorties). Our list of commonalities didn’t stop there. Anne was a gifted musician, teacher, writer, and sailor. Can you see how many things we had in common?! Of course, my piano playing amounts to Heart and Soul. And I’m probably more interested in Sea Bags (one of Anne’s favorite brands), Kiel James Patrick bracelets, Sperry’s, and preppy clothing than I am actual sailing. Although, to my credit, I did sail in a Regatta and I do wind surf.
Regardless of my skill level at the piano or on the high seas, Anne always found a way to connect with me; to share in my enthusiasm for the things she loved. When it came to writing, she pursued her MFA in Creative Writing for Young Adults and Children. A true interest of mine, she knew that I was looking into furthering my writing career. So, she graciously invited me to join her for an open house weekend with her program. I remember sitting in various lectures and discussion groups with Anne that weekend. She was beaming with excitement, in her true element, surrounded by writers. She made sure I was introduced to professors and her classmates, proudly announcing that I was her cousin. I remember her telling me that someday, I’d be a published author. To her core, Anne believed in me.
A year or so after my weekend with Anne at her MFA program, she launched her self-published book. At a yacht club. Fitting for her book and her life; sailing on the lakes of Minnesota. I rushed from work to the yacht club and purchased my copy of her book. She grinned from ear to ear as she swirled her Sharpie on the inside cover and wrote in her distinct handwriting words of encouragement to me. On her big day, she was still focusing on others.
Last year, she took time out of her busy life to beta read some of my work (a manuscript that is yet to be re-worked and lit agented). She offered generous compliments, critiques, and cheers. And I valued her opinion with utmost respect.
So, last Thursday when I got an email asking for urgent prayer for Anne, I jumped in to help coordinate emails, visit my cousin C and his four kids in the hospital, and offer whatever encouragement I could offer under such tragic circumstances. Because it’s what Anne would have done. What she did do whenever someone was in need. She offered support. Visited. Wrote words of hope. It’s just who she was.
And on Sunday, our own Anne spelled with an “e” passed away. I don’t quite know if I have, or will ever have, the words to describe that moment in the hospital waiting room. And I don’t feel like dwelling on the sadness in this post. Because this is about the Anne’s life. Her vibrant, always happy self that spread her joy to everyone she met.
She’s beaten us all to the big Party. And I knew that when I get there someday, she’ll be there with a hug, helllllo, and how have you been.
In the meantime, I’ll write some more words, love hard, and share in moments of joy with those around me. For Anne.
Thanks, Anne. All my love,