Last year we had a death in the family. It was one of those, Holy Shit whaaa?, kind of deaths. A car accident. A, didn't see it coming kind of things. A "are you kidding me, universe" kind of deaths. In many ways I haven't dealt with it. It's one of those ones that wasn't supposed to happen. A mid forties father of three not supposed to happen. A son, brother, father, cousin, family member kind of death that was not supposed to be.
My cousin was the older brother I never had. I grew up with an older and a younger sister, so it was a special treat when I got to hang out with my cousins, who were all boys. My mom's side of the family is very close, and me and my cousins were very close. If we had to pick teams, he always picked me. And that made me feel special. I was cool in his eyes, and that was all that mattered to me because I looked up to him.
Years later, as we all grew up and went our different ways, we still kept in touch. Sure, we might have not been as tight as we used to be, but we could always pick up where we left off. We got married. We had families. We had responsibilities. Phone calls became farther apart. Through crappy circumstances, my cousin moved to my city. Kind of looking for a fresh start. Not only a place where I lived, but a city his brother had moved to a few years prior. A built in support system. We got him on his feet as he started over. And he excelled. Working whatever job he had to as he went back to school. We got to hang out, but as with everyone, lives happen. We had a kid. His kids were becoming teenagers, one who lived with him, and he had a new bright fulfilling relationship. We hung out less and less as we let our daily grind become excuses. We lived in the same city, but saw each other less than when we lived hundreds of miles apart.
Because in the back of your mind you think that they will always be there. Once I take care of this, this, and this, we will have more time to hang out. We talked a lot about music, both being card carrying metal heads. We talked about art and art techniques, both being artists. And we took it for granted thinking we would always be there.
And then he's not. You get that phone call from a family member. The one you don't want to believe. The one your brain can't process. An instant hole in your soul that can never be filled.
It was a brutal funeral. Only made better by my close knit family. I hadn't seen his kids in years and now they were all grown up. I felt guilty for not knowing them better. For not being there when it was his weekends to have them. As I said, sometimes life gets in the way. Sometimes reality sucks.
We found out that his oldest son's first concert was him and his dad at Motley Crue. Well, at that time, we found out that the Crue was on their farewell tour. So right there, at the funeral, my wife used her phone to purchase tickets to the concert for us and the boys. A kind of, "He would have wanted this" kind of gesture. A promise made. A promise to be a part of their lives. A promise to make memories with them. A promise to do things with them that he would have done with them.
Sometimes during events like funerals, you say things like, "we need to keep in better touch" that never materialize despite the good intentions. It's good for a couple of months and then the grind of daily life gets in the way. You don't mean for it to happen, it just does. Gradually over time, things of import just end up shifting to the back of your brain. But this was one promise I would not let go to the wayside.
So yesterday, on the Fourth of July, my wife and I took my cousin's boys to Motley Crue. The promise of six months before was a reality. And we had a blast. We got to connect. We got to share a common bond that involved their father's memory. We kept our promise. Our promise to make memories. Our promise to get to know them as young men. Our promise to help guide them in an uncertain future. Our promise on their father's memory that they always had someone there for them, through good and bad.
We made memories on that day that I think will last a lifetime. There was just an unspoken "thing" about that night. We all knew what it was, but we just let it be. No need to over analyze it. We knew, and that's all that matters.
There's no special message in this blog. No, "cherish what you have" kind of thing. I just wanted something down for posterity. I miss my cousin dearly and just want to do right by his kids. I just want him to look down and say, "Thanks. That was fucking cool."