This post is a little different from most. This is me sharing a piece of me that I don't talk about.
Twenty years ago, my cousin passed away from Cancer. I was 15 and she was 17. It was August, just the day before the first day of her Senior year of high school.
As an only child, it's common you may have that one friend or cousin that fills a void for you and “Yada” was that person. We did so many things together and most of my childhood memories, until the age of 15 are engulfed with moments shared with her.
When Yada was sick, I didn’t go to school many days, I would cuddle up in the hospital bed with her, and we did things like watch movies, and play with the Super Nintendo the hospital was equipped with. We lived in the same house. Our rooms were just next to one another. We shared clothes and we even dressed alike. I still remember our brown leather, waist length jackets from Wilson's Leather we had, and always being asked if we were sisters or even twins. We loved to choreograph dances alongside her sister Shatira, and our cousin Taphara. Those days were simply beautiful.
Before Yada's mom passed away, just four years before her (I watched her take her last breath too, that was a tough season) we lived in the same building and before that, we lived apart and would beg our mothers for sleepovers. When we couldn't, we would cry.
Thinking back, I don’t think anyone ever considered how the loss of Yada had an impact on me or how it would impact me soon after. I don’t think there was malice attached. I think everyone was mourning, and were concerned about her three older sisters (rightfully), I wasn’t upset. To be honest, I did feel extremely lonely. I remember going back home after the funeral to what felt like an icy glacier, alone in the middle of nowhere. I equally remember the loneliness attached to my high school experience, in a weird way. Thankfully, my cousin Taphara moved in and her presence helped tremendously.
Would you believe 20 years later that loneliness is still present. Not because I don’t have friends or family but because the sistership we had, just can’t be replicated.
I miss my cousin. We were looking forward to college years and beyond! Now I sit and I smile, sometimes I cry ( I still can’t listen to Yolanda Adams “Open My Arms”). But most importantly, I am thankful for those years of fun, friendship, fighting and love we shared.
I had started a foundation in her name, to be honest, the older I have gotten, it's been difficult to keep it going because the constant reminder is difficult. However, I am hoping to make it a 501c3 some day. It's called Lonyea Cares Foundation on Facebook
Every year, We would collect toys for Christmas and donate them to Rush's Children's Hospital (that's where she was).
Today is her heavenly birthday. She would be 37 years old! I always wonder what that looks like and how things would have been. Happy Birthday Girl! Today, we will have cake and I will buy plants, it's therapeutic.