My cousin died this week. And while my father is one of five children and the majority of them went on to have 2-3 kids, resulting in a plethora of cousins; my mom has one sister and both of them had two children. Four grandchildren, four first cousins – two boys and two girls. Four musketeers that were raised to basically be siblings (including the fights, oh lordy the fights were stupid-epic.). And now, we are down one. And god, my heart has a fault line created early Sunday morning when my mom called to tell me that her bonus son had fallen and died of his injuries.
Let’s not sugarcoat things. My cousin wasn’t perfect, I’m not perfect – our relationship reflected this imperfection. I cannot drive the heavy machinery that he seemed born to operate and he could barely use a computer. He drank Busch Light and I drink craft beer. But we loved our grandparents. We have all the shared memories that come out of childhood. A Waylon Jennings CD was on top of the stack of discs I found in his kitchen, so the kid had good taste in music. (Yes, he was a 38-year-old man, but I was older – so I get to call him a kid.) There were times this week that I wondered if he thought that I was weird and frivolous, but to be honest – we probably didn’t spend much time thinking about each other, because we were just there. Most of the time, family just shows up and my cousin and I were good at that.
My cousin was a good man. He was one hell of a hard worker. He didn’t talk a lot, but he showed up early to family gatherings and he’d just take it all in. He drove a truck, he had a dog. I watched a lot of burly men cry this week as they remembered one of the greatest friends they’ll ever have. He leaves his dad, his mom and her husband, his baby sister, a trio of stepsiblings, his aunts and uncles, a lot of cousins. He was buried on an unseasonably cool spring day in a beautiful church cemetery in the country. I was comforted to see that he’s beside his beloved uncle Gene and close to his paternal grandparents, Ben and Virginia.
His memory is a blessing, but for the rest of my days I’m going to miss my bonus brother.