It was last Friday, the day before she was supposed to open her “wearable art” store for the Cape May season. She was mostly ready, although she had just returned from a fabulous adventure across the US with her dear travelling friend. On this trip, she had visited with her two daughters, their husbands and their children and seen New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, and Vegas, among other hot spots. She posted joyful pictures of the whole affair. She wasn’t yet 70 years old. That Friday morning, she didn’t wake up. A massive heart attack took her life unexpectedly.

This adventurous, loving woman was my cousin and my first hero. My earliest memories of her were of exuberantly learning the nuances of the Mashed Potato and the Watusi. She was an avid dancer, and while she probably would never have won a beauty prize, she was attractive to all. Her free and frequent laugh, her nearly always present smile and her attention and presence when you spoke with her, was enhanced by her awareness of the goodness of her life and was a magnet to others.

She didn’t have an easy life. A long marriage with an unhappy man and his difficult family, financial concerns, and a life of long hours and hard work were hers. She met them all with love. Although she finally left that marriage, when her husband was ill last year, she was there for him, not as a chore, but out of love. If any of her friends needed her, she was there. She was the rock of her daughters’ lives, but not one that interfered. Everyone she loved knew it and she knew that she was loved. She was so many people’s “soul sister”, it is astounding. She was like a Love Fairy, leaving sparkles in her wake.

And now she is gone, leaving her legacy of love in the hearts of many. It was an “easy” death, as these go and while no one was ready for her departure, she left nothing important undone. She lived every day as if it were her last, but with a grace and openness that I can only admire and hope to learn. Goodbye my sweet cousin, may your star shine ever bright and your endowment of love multiply.

If you were to leave this planet today, does everyone you love know you love them? Would you leave regret in your path…or love?