This was my cousin, Marlene.

When I see this picture, I want to tell you about the goofy impressions we did of our parents. We had a lot of practice. This was the best thing about growing up in a big family, with cousins who are really like siblings. 

I want to tell you about the Christmas cards she sent, first with one daughter, and then with two. This Christmas promised an addition, Alex Jr., her first son. Marlene and Alex Sr. and the kids, in matching outfits. We could already see it. We looked forward to those cards.

I want to tell you about the texts from the hospital, how they’d come when you didn’t expect them. She was a doctor, a brilliant one, a busy one. Everyone understood. She made time, anyway. Sometimes, chasing the life you want takes you far from home. Sometimes, it’s good to know that someone else understands. I’m going to miss those texts.

I want to tell you about all these things, though not right now, because right now, it hurts way too much. But I will tell you this.

When the time came to say goodbye, the church was full, so full that people lined the walls and stood shoulder to shoulder. They came from everywhere and they gave, more than anyone could imagine. They are still giving. Through his tears, Alex found the right words, beautiful words, summoning incredible strength when there should have been none. 

This was my cousin, Marlene. In life, she was the perfect union of achievement and grace, a light so powerful that even in death, she brought out the best in us all.

— 30 —


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