I'm one of Annie's many cousins and, much as I hate to admit it, I don't have many memories specific to Annie. I was still a kid myself when she was taken from us. However, for me, Annie has come to sort of embody my childhood. Growing up, our family was (and still is) unusually close; hardly a month passed without some sort of family gathering and, during the year that my Grammy had cancer, the whole family was together more often than not. My twin brother, my cousin Mollie and I fall right in the middle of the 15 cousins, so we had the unique experience of being able to alternate between looking after the "little ones" and playing with them as peers.
Without doubt, my favorite childhood memories involve times spent with my siblings and cousins: Christmas Eves at Grammy and Poppop's - putting on our annual travesty of a nativity pageant and exchanging Secret Santa cousin gifts; the yearly week in Dewey Beach, where we all crammed into three tiny townhouses and having a shower to yourself was a rarity; summer pool parties at Aunt Megan and Uncle Tom's that lasted way past our bedtimes.
I was just starting the process of leaving childhood behind when Annie was taken away so, as I grew up, she began to represent the innocent, stress-free time before I started to really understand the world. The rest of us are adults (or nearly there) now, but Annie's still the little girl that keeps our kid selves from disappearing entirely. She's my symbol of where we all came from and that, no matter what, my family knows me - they've been with me the whole time - and they're not going anywhere. Annie, for me, is not only my cousin, she is my reminder that we were all kids once and that, if we look hard enough, we still are.
I love you Annie.