“I was too young that time to value her,
But now I know her.”― William Shakespeare, As You Like It

Growing up with a cousin who is just about 10 years older than me, building a close bond wasn’t something that I expected to happen quick. While she was experiencing college, I was just entering middle school– talk about a gap. In more recent years, we’ve tried to keep in touch as much as possible, but let’s face it– we both slacked, big time. While she was living in Central New Jersey, it wasn’t easy for me to travel from Northern New Jersey to travel down to see her, or vise versa.

Arielle was destined for success, and she began her actual life soon after college, career and all, when I had just entered high school. And with my second year of college coming to start in a little over a month, living in New York City this past year with no car made it even harder to get home. I never lost touch with any of the family members I was surrounded by growing up, our lives just began going in different directions. There were always “Happy Birthday’s” and “Merry Christmases”, but rarely a, “Hey! Let’s grab coffee.”

This could be blamed partially on my part, and partially on my family’s part, however life is tough, and different for everyone at the least. Some have kids to take care of, school to attend, work to report to and a career to maintain; just “grabbing” some coffee isn’t always as easy as it sounds. So you’re probably wondering– “Rikki, where are you going with this?” This is where I’m going. Do I wish I had seen Arielle more? Yes, yes I do. But would I change anything? No, not at all– because everything is exactly how I want it right in this moment (minus the fact that she’s moving in a day).

In a recent turn of events, my long lost twin soul and soul sister who also happens to be my first cousin, is moving to Florida. Gosh. Could life be any worse right now? With the age gap still being a bit large, I really wish we could close it somehow or another. However, with that being impossible, I’m believe I connect with her on a much more mature level than many other young women my age.

Spending a few days with Arielle over the course of the past few weeks have been fantastic. I always looked up to her, and speaking to her about experiences and love and loss and other heart wrenching or hilarious topics made it as if I was looking in the mirror, 10 years from now. Her views and perspectives and outlooks on life are so positive and fruitful, and her intelligence is continuously growing and she is always open to learning… and what’s not to love about that?

The more we spoke, the more I realized why I looked up to her when I was much younger and continue to, to this day. Looking at her, I see exactly what I aimed to be when I was younger, and still continue to work on ultimately achieving– the ability to call myself a strong, independent, intelligent, self-aware and self-confident woman.

So, to Arielle, my wonderful cousin/soul-sister/twin-soul, I wish you the best of luck on your journey down to Florida. You hold a very special place in my heart, and you will always be the reflection I want to see when I look in the mirror.

Thank you for sharing stories with me, and listening to mine over a few glasses of wine. Thank you for crafting on the couch with me while watching HGTV re-runs. Thank you for letting me kiss and cuddle your puppy as if she was my own. But most importantly, thank you for showing me that family truly is the most important thing in life– it is a bond that can’t ever be broken.

So cheers! To a beautiful woman inside and out, opening the next chapter of her life– you are truly a blessing in mine. I wish you happy and safe travels. I’ll see you soon in the sunny state! I love you long time Arielle.

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“Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”