Sunday, March 27, 2016

A Death in the Family

I found out about the death of a cousin on Facebook because that’s how we learn of these things now.

We weren’t close. She was from a branch of the family I didn’t see often. Growing up I’d never been to a BBQ, birthday, or holiday dinner at her house and she’d never been to one at mine. I guess this sounds bad but I can’t miss a relationship I never had. As the years went by it just seemed normal that there were branches of the family you were close to and branches you weren’t. No big whoop, right?

But our fathers grew up together. And although they’d drifted apart in their adulthood they still considered themselves close.  And so when her dad got sick and died I took my Dad to the hospital to see him and then to the memorial service. We sat in the last row reserved for and packed with family; people I didn’t know. Well, I knew my first cousins; or were they my second? Dammit, my grasp on family history was getting looser by the moment. But that was ok. I was really just there for my Dad, and he seemed to need me. (I’m not used to that but that’s a story for another time.)

My cousin’s dad was a good man. There was no shortage of people who wanted, needed to say a few words at his service. Their stories were a river that never ran dry. And then my cousin took the microphone and spoke about her dad. And I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a daughter speak so sincerely, so honestly, and so beautifully about a father; about what it means to be a Daddy’s Girl. And suddenly I was painfully aware of how fortunate I was to be sitting there next to my original Knight in Shining Armor.  

And so, I put it on my to do list to call my cousin. I wanted to tell her that her eloquence and humor under the weight of a painful loss of a loving lifelong relationship had impressed and moved me; how much I loved hearing what she had to say and how she said it.  How her words made me know her dad and want to know her better.  I really wanted to tell her that.

But I didn’t call right away because I didn’t want to intrude on her grief. And then I got caught up in the day-to-day. And I said to myself: I’ll call tomorrow. I’ll call on Sunday. I’ll call next week. And then Facebook.  

Just like that I’d missed the moment. But I’d missed so many already. I didn’t know her favorite color; if she preferred coffee to tea; if she liked her French fries with ketchup or mayonnaise. Michael Jackson or Prince. And now we’ll always be distant cousins, but we’ll also always be Daddy’s Girls. And that will have to be enough.

Good night, Ingrid.

Leighann Lord is a veteran stand-up comedian seen on HBO, Comedy Central, and The View. She is the author of Dict Jokes and Real Women Do it Standing Up; and is a co-host of StarTalk Radio, with Neil de Grasse Tyson. Follow her @LeighannLord To join TeamLeighann: Text FunnyLady to 22828. Listen to the podcast of her blog on iTunes and Stitcher Radio.

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