Zack and I got back from Tokyo on Saturday after three crazy days of adventuring. Our feet were actually swollen from walking so much.
I came back home to the news that my cousin Kelly was killed in a car accident. She was only 19. I wasn't close to her, and in some ways that makes it even worse. Now I'll never get to know her. As anyone remotely close to me knows, my family is far from "normal" in any sense of the word. Kelly was on my dad's side of the family--the part of our family that we have little contact with. I don't think any of us intended to shut out all of those relatives; I think we just wanted to get away. We had to. They live in Liberty County, the place that haunts my and my sisters' nightmares because of our childhoods there. The main reason we left was to get away from our father, who is an abusive alcoholic psychopath. In the process, we alienated ourselves from that entire side of the family. Our grandmother on that side also has issues with Melissa for various reasons (reasons that I consider stupid and not Melissa's fault at all), and Melissa is one of the most important people in my life, one of the most amazing people Ive ever met. So when it came time to "pick sides," naturally I picked Melissa's. And things just haven't been the same since then.
But tragedy has a way of bringing people together. I wasn't able to go to the funeral--obviously--but Erica and Melissa did. Erica said that they welcomed her and Melissa with open arms. That grandma wanted to put the past behind us all and try to be a family again. They also saw our father whom we haven't seen in seven years. Losing one cousin, one of these people that I grew up with, made me realize that I need to stop taking all of them for granted. Some people I don't think I can fully reconnect with--like my father--but I don't want to go the rest of my life being separate from half of my family. Because that's what they are--my family. My bloodline. I've seen what my life can be like without them, and now I want to know what it's like with them as a part of it.
I feel terrible for neglecting my family. But I've been scared of that place and scared of what my life would have been like if we had stayed there. Now I know that I'm going to be okay. I'm going to have the kind of life that I want and nothing is going to stop me--not the past, not poverty, not fear. I think it's time to face the past. I know that I am strong enough to handle it now.
I wish that I could have been there when everyone really needed me. That's the worst part of traveling: being away from the people you love. I just don't know how to win in life. I want to see the world but I don't want to cut myself off from those I care about.
I'll post some pictures from Tokyo later...
Rest in peace, Kelly. I'm so sorry that you didn't get more time on this Earth. I'm even sorrier that I didn't really know you. I remember playing with you out in the blackberry patch and in the den at Grandma's house. You will be missed.