My husband’s cousin Natalie died this week. She would have been 45 years old on New Year’s Day. We don’t know how she died. Her father said she died of a broken heart.
And we believe him.
Natalie has a special place in my heart. Because her family lived in Heber, Shane and I would often stop by their house on our frequent trips to Duchesne and back. So I remember watching her grow up during her teenage years. She was one of four delightful girls and we very much enjoyed watching them grow into beautiful, strong women. It was harder to keep in touch when our visits became less frequent as our own family grew, and then her family moved away. But Natalie stayed in the Heber Valley.
Natalie had a vibrant, sunny smile, a great sense of humor, courage, strength, and a huge heart. She kept getting up every time life beat her down–and beat her down it did, over and over again. And oh how she loved her boys. They were her heart.
Natalie suffered from painful, difficult, and mysterious health problems that took forever to diagnose and properly treat. During this time she ended up in Provo quite a bit in the hospital near my home. I would go visit Natalie, hoping to cheer her up, but she was always the one doing the cheering. Even when she suffered in horrible pain, Natalie was gracious, grateful for my visit, and always left me feeling better for having spent time with her.
One day I was traveling through Midway and stopped to get some gas. To my great surprise Natalie happened by at the same time and we got to visit a little bit. It was a simple thing, but it made my day. I recall visiting her at her house a time or two and then, as her health improved, I only saw her occasionally at the family reunions.
We kept in touch on Facebook after that, but eventually I missed her presence there, and I didn’t really know how she was doing. It’s been awhile since I saw her. And we had just missed her at the last family reunion.
Her father said they found Natalie snuggled up in her bed with a look of content on her face. My greatest hope for her is respite from her pain and peace in her heart.
I feel so grateful for what I can only call her friendship–even though we were kin. But also some regret. I was a friend to her when she came to Provo, or was on Facebook, or when we saw each other again at the family reunion. But I wish I had reached out to her wherever she was in the last couple of years when, it appears, she retreated, and it wasn’t so easy to find her.
As we left the viewing tonight, I recalled how each one of Natalie’s sisters had, independently, and in their own time of mourning I cannot imagine, offered me words of comfort.
“Natalie really loved you.”
Dear Natalie, I hope you know how much I love you, too.
Rest in peace, dear cousin. Till we meet again.