As a little girl, I had one elaborate nightly ritual. I would pile dozens of stuffed animals in bed with me. Each evening, my mom would come in to kiss me goodnight, and she’d say, “Aubrey, choose one and put the rest back.” I obeyed, at least while she was in the room. Soon after she left, I would grab my animals one by one and put them back in bed with me. I was sure any left behind would be cold and lonely. This simple routine brought me much comfort. In a world of unknowns, this somehow quieted my fears, allowing me to sleep easier.
As an adult, I have realized there are still people in my life who bring me the same peace of mind. These people share my DNA, they share my family, they have shared my life. They are my cousins. There is no explaining to do when Uncle Joe is ranting and raving in a drunk stupor or when Aunt Betty starts talking crazy from her meds. They have seen your best and they have been there through your worst. I am infinitely grateful for my cousins.
One in particular has lightened my burdens. She sat next to me at my dad’s funeral, she made me laugh, she let me cry. She is bright, kind and quirky. She’s a living reminder of my dad and the innocence of childhood. When I am with her it takes me back to simpler days. The familiar days of being safe and warm at my great-grandmother’s house. Laughing, playing, being the children we were meant to be.
When I have no idea what the future holds, when my life is full of chaos, I crave the familiar. I desire normalcy and I need comfort. My cousins give me all these things. Being with them gives me the same feeling I had when I snuggled in my bed surrounded by dozens of stuffed animals. They are familiar, safe and secure. They quiet my fears and take me back to childhood. I can rest easier knowing I have the comfort of my cousins.