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When I was 9 years old, my aunt married a man who had 6 kids. Those kids then became our step cousins and their ages matched up well with some of the kids in our own family. So, we all became great friends. We all really hit it off and got along really well. We felt like they had been cousins of ours all our lives. Soon after, the oldest of those 6 kids, Kara, and my oldest brother, Richard, dated and eventually got married. So not only were we all step cousins, but also Kara was my sister in law and it was great because it made it so we all got to see each other even more. Well, a couple of years later, my aunt and their dad divorced... which technically ended the fact that we were all step cousins... but we always still thought of them as our cousins. And of course, my brother was married to their sister, so it kept all of us connected. One of those 6 kids was a girl who was just a year older than me. Heather. She and my sister Lisa were the same age, and then there was another girl a little younger Natalie. The four of us would hang out together and play and have sleepovers. We had some really great times. Over the years as we all became adults, we have continued to see each other at family functions and the events that our nieces and nephews were involved in. In the last several years at these gatherings, sometimes I would interact with our old step cousins and sometimes (I am sure because of my own insecurities), I would not so much.
Well, last night, I was sitting at my house and I got a phone call from my brother informing me that Heather had been killed in a bus accident earlier in the evening. I couldn't believe it. Heather was a band instructor at American Fork High School and they had just been in Idaho competing in a band competition, where they took first place. They were on their way home when the driver of their bus blacked out and the bus was heading off the road. Heather saw what was happening and jumped out of her seat to grab the wheel to try to keep the bus from crashing. Well, Heather was thrown from the bus and she was the only fatality. News story.
When Aaron passed away, I made up my mind that I didn't ever want to have regrets again when someone I know passes away. I wanted to try to live my life so that if I ever got the news that someone I knew passed away, I wanted to be able to think back and be happy about the interactions I had with that person. Well, the news of Heather's death made me realize that I have not learned my lesson. I instantly was filled with regret and guilt thinking back on the last time we were together. It was two weeks ago. My nephew (and her nephew) had just returned home from his 2 year mission and he had his mission report at church that day. Afterwards, we all gathered at my brother's house for a dinner and visiting. Heather was there, of course. I am pretty sure I said hi. But shortly after arriving there, something upset me and I was in a downer mood for the first while of the visit. I sat on the outskirts of the group feeling down for myself. That was my choice. Well, eventually, Heather and her parents left and several other people left as well and it opened up some room in the main visiting group and I was invited to join them all. I finally made a choice to try to cheer up and go and join the group. Well, I would give anything for Heather to have still been there when I made that choice, because the rest of the visit was great. I decided to be cheerful and let go of whatever had upset me that day. But when I heard of Heather's death, besides sadness for her and her family, the only other thing filling my mind was that last time I saw her and the regrets of not going and seeing how she was doing and catching up with her. This is not something that she is worried about, but I am worried about this.
On my sister's blog posting about Heather, she posted some words from a mormon message on youtube titled: Someday that she had watched today. I saw this same message earlier this week and it goes along perfectly with this.
"There is a danger in the word someday. When what it means is, 'not this day'. The thought 'someday I will' can be a thief of the opportunities of time and the blessings of eternity. Even the Savior who was without sin set an example of the need not to procrastinate. He said 'I must work the works of Him that sent me while it is day. The night cometh, when no man can work'. "
Truly I had an opportunity that day to reach out to Heather and show her that I care about her and have an interest in her... because I do. But instead, my choice of 'not that day' robbed me and now I will never have another opportunity to show her in this life. So the 'danger in the word someday' is the danger of feeling the regret and guilt later. I do this way too often. My own insecurities will make me think in my mind... oh, I should talk to that person and find out how they are, but not today... maybe later. Another time. Now, I live with regret again. I didn't learn my lesson. I hope I have now.
I don't want to live with regrets. No more 'somedays'...
Heather has always been one of the most cheerful people I know. She has always been so positive and always had a smile on her face. She found joy in life and lived life to the fullest that she possibly could. She didn't wait around for joy to find her... she found the joy in life. She was a talented musician and a beautiful person. She is loved and she is most definitely missed.
My heart is broken for her family... her parents, her siblings, and her nieces and nephews, who were always very close to Heather.
We love you Heather.
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