I was saddened yesterday by news of the sudden passing of a cousin.
I am still unclear of the details, but was appreciative of being included on an email chain sent to family members and relatives spread out across this planet.
He was one of those cousins you looked up to.
While we were not close in age, and lived in separate cities for many years, he was one of those cousins who had an impact on my life.
When I was a kid, he would always take the time to play football, or roughhouse, with a much younger cousin. As I grew up, he was one of those people you admired not only for his career achievements, but also for who he was as a person.
A dutiful son and loving uncle, he was a wonderful man who took a real interest in people. He had one of those smiles that would brighten any room, and one of those laughs that would fill it.
I mentioned his laugh in an email with another cousin yesterday — again we were not close in age, and are distanced geographically — but she too fondly remembered his endearing laughter from a very young age.
It was as genuine as he was. My cousin was the type of person who would listen intently to whomever he was talking with.
I will also remember how he was always there for his mother. Having lost his father very early in life, he was raised by a strong woman who cared deeply for two young sons. As a young adult, I marveled at the relationship this man maintained with his mother, particularly after his younger brother passed away far too early.
We would occasionally bump into each other when we lived in the same city; often he was out with his mother. It was my pleasure to invite the two of them over for our family’s Christmas dinner.
I remember the sadness in his voice when he called to inform me his mother had passed on.
I thought of his mother, again, yesterday as I looked at the email chain and reflected on how we, my family, are all spread out now and how little contact we have with each other. We all lead separate lives and somehow any connection we once had has slowly dissolved.
I was fortunate, this time, to be told of the death. Often it has not been the case. You find out months, or years, later.
It’s sad, really.
I thought of how we, I, need to try an make a more substantial connection with the people who shared coffee with me at my mother’s funeral, Kool-Aid or tea at yet another birthday, wedding or anniversary celebration and people who, somehow, share my bloodline.
Right now, I seem to know so little of them or their whereabouts. I, honestly, had to sit down and think of names, and relationships, and ages. Both my father and mother were the youngest of many children, so there are decades and generations to account for.
I lost track, or heard less news of relatives, after my mother passed on; even less after my father’s death.
And now, with the passing of another cousin, I feel even less of a connection.
I know, and understand, death is part of the life cycle; we are born and grow up knowing we will die.
What matters is what happens between the two dates that bracket your life and not only your experiences, but your connection to others.
It is not only if, but also how, you will be remembered.
©2020 j.g. lewis
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