Ingrid taking a photo of her awesome self with her phone

Ingrid Marie Hess 1978-2009

Hi there, readers of the SprouseNet Blog. Xan here, really, really wishing she was just writing all about the Canada convention and her birthday that fell on the last day of it. I will eventually, but I feel a little callous talking about myself right now.
The photo of the very beautiful and glamorous woman on this blog is a photo my cousin Ingrid. She took it with her phone, and I loved it so I copied it from her Facebook page. And if anyone has been to my Facebook page lately and has read my cryptic comments about being sad, it’s because my family lost Ingrid this past Tuesday the 21st.
Having no siblings, my cousins were as close as I ever got to knowing what it was like to grow up with other kids. Ingrid and her younger brother, Brian are my Uncle Al and Aunt Kathy’s children, Uncle Al being my father’s younger brother. When my Uncle Al married my Aunt Kathy, they moved into the family home that my grandfather built in the 1950s, and they lived there (and still do) with my Grandma Rita. Anyway, since they lived in the family home, I saw a lot of them growing up since this is where we stayed when we would come visit. My parents would be on the hide-a-bed downstairs, and I would sleep in Ingrid’s room. We spend a lot of nights staying up late and playing when we were supposed to be in bed, and as we got older, just chatting.
Ingrid and I got closer when she moved back to Cleveland from Michigan where she went to school. I would see her when I would go to Cleveland for concerts, and thanks to Facebook and MySpace we were talking every week. I never realized it until recently, but I relied on her quite a bit to be my rock in our family. Since she was so close to everyone (figuratively and literally-Brian bought the house next door, and Ingrid bought the one next to Brian) I could always depend on her to make sure I knew what was going on, who was doing what, and that I got my ass in gear and sent Gram a card for her birthday. We had some heart to hearts about our lives recently, and we were just good friends who happened to love each other like family since we were.
I was in Toronto when my mom called me to tell me that she had some bad news, which was that Ingrid had had an accident on the 19th and was in the hospital, and things were not optimistic. We checked out of the hotel as fast as we could and raced to Ohio (thank you for ignoring us, state troopers of highway 90) to be with the family. I got to the hospital and there was Ingrid, Brian holding one hand and Aunt Kathy holding another. The room was dimly lit, and they had a stereo playing Brad Paisley, Ingrid’s favorite musician. I kept wanting her to just wake up, and everything would be okay. She looked just like Ingrid, still beautiful, the same head of thick wavy black hair that I coveted my entire life, same sweet little hands, same soft skin. I held her hand and thought “Just wake up sweetie, and this will all be okay. If you would just wake up, we can go watch the Cavs and have a beer like we used to. If you could just wake up, we could have a Muppet Show marathon with Beata (her daughter). Please wake up, and we can have you back with us because we love you.” False hope sucks worse than anything, because even though her body was alive, it was only thanks to medical technology. She never did wake up, and around 8:30 Tuesday morning the 21st, Uncle Al called my mom to say that Ingrid had let go of this mortal coil and was no longer with us. I felt numb and empty, and I still do.
The one thing that is keeping me going is that I know she knew I loved her very much. I had told her recently, and not being the most demonstrative family, it’s not like we said it every day or anything. She knows how much I loved her, and still love her, and how much she meant to me. This terrible event is making me want to tell everyone that if you love someone, be sure they know.
If you are reading this blog and you know me, odds are I love you too, very much. I may be an agoraphobic flake, but I love you and just because I suck at planning visits and calling doesn’t mean I don’t think of you often. If you are ever sad or need me, I’m here.
I’ll miss you, Ing.

Happy Birthday, Xan!

Today is Xan’s birthday! We’re in Toronto right now, visiting friends and attending a comic convention and I am so exhausted I can barely type. I’ll try to get her to write about the trip and I’ll post some photos and artwork when we get home. Until then, wish Xan a happy birthday on her Facebook or MySpace page.