Even though it seemed like a lifetime go, I can remember being held by my dad and seeing my very best friend for the last time quite clearly. She was sitting in her hospital bed, eating a sandwich, smiling and waving even though she was hooked up to a series of tubes. I smiled and waved at her through the small glass window that the door provided, receiving another wave back. When my dad set me down onto the ground again, I simply flounced my four-year-old self away towards the car with my Blues Clues pillow, oblivious to the fact that I would never see her again.
When Rebecca died at the age of 13, we were all devastated, especially my aunt who had been with her through the cancer since it began.
Apparently a few weeks after the tragic loss I would start zoning out and giggling to myself during car rides, naptime, or even at night. Alarmed, my parents would rush in, bring me to my senses, and ask me what was wrong. Confused, I'd answer, "Nothing, Mommy! I was just playing with Rebecca in the balloons at the church!" (The church where my cousin went to had a tall ceiling that would be cluttered with balloons during celebrations.) Shocked, they nodded and went back to their business, brushing it off lightly.
As I grew older I would miss my cousin greatly and to the extent of crying on random occasions. Being the odd child I was, I would sometimes wonder if I were to die at the age of 13 as my cousin had. "Of course you won't. You're not meant too," her voice would whisper close by and I'd sigh in discontent. I missed her. I needed my playmate.
Years went by with little thought to the matter until I was 12, nearing 13. One spring night when I went to bed, I dreamt that my whole family was at a giant cabin somewhere at the edge of a forest. I had been going around the house when I heard giggling, and stepped outside to the back porch where the forest met the deck. My little two-year-old sister (named Rebecca after my cousin) was sitting and playing with something. Scolding her jestingly I scooped her up in my arms and felt the cool breeze of spring wash over me.
"You're almost 13!" my little sister happily clapped her pudgy little hands, and my eyes widened. I could feel the familiar presence of my cousin then, wanting desperately to see her or hear my playmate's voice. I soon woke up, holding my pillow the same way I was holding my little sister. It was my Blues Clues pillow case.
I'm now 14, and nothing happened during my 13th year as I had feared. I miss my cousin Rebecca dearly, but sometimes I feel someone watching me when I'm looking at a photo of her at my grandparent's or aunt's, which makes me smile and whisper a small "hello." Usually my (now) four-year-old sister comes and smiles, responding with a "hello" of her own.