I met my cousin when I was a sophomore in high school. My family had just moved back to my dad's home town ... and it was a culture shock to say the least. Everyone knew each other. Everyone grew up together. It was like joining a conversation in the middle ... you felt a step behind everyone else. My saving grace was that even though I didn't know anyone ... everyone knew me. Well, not me, per se ... but my family. I was a legacy. My dad ... my grandparents ... great grandparents ... aunts and uncles and cousins ... they were all from that area. You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting someone I was related to.
So it wasn't a surprise when I ran into a cousin I hadn't met before. He was two years ahead of me ... and even though he was a senior, we quickly became thick as thieves. He became a big brother that I looked up to ... we were family. He was always going on a road trip ... or coming back from a concert ... always involved in some plan or scheme. I was sad when he graduated ... and ... since this was before e-mail or texts or cell phones ... we drifted apart.
Fast forward five years. I was at a party, when a buddy of mine said he was going to run an errand. He needed to return some CDs to a friend ... and asked if I wanted to ride along. As the universe would have it, that friend was my cousin ... and just like that, we were back.
For the next several years, we lived adventurous lives. I drove him to Champaign in the middle of the night to retrieve his car from a psychotic ex-girlfriend. He drove me to a girl's house in the middle of the night to find out if my boyfriend was cheating with her ... he was, in case you're curious. I was there when his fiance broke his heart. He was there when a friend broke mine. He wasn't a yes man. He told me when I was screwing up ... and he told me that a lot. He literally saved my life once ... but that's a story for another day.
He was one of my best friends ... until I got married. My relationship with him was another casualty of my "new life." When I think of him ... and all the friends I neglected ... it's hard to get past that regret. By the time I was separated and we were able to spend time together, my cousin had been diagnosed with cancer.
He has stage four colon cancer. It's rare in someone so young ... and by the time they found what was making him sick, the cancer had already spread to his lungs and liver. Other than a few bad days, he's still been the same. Our evenings out are tame now ... but our conversations haven't changed. He tells me his woes ... he listens to mine. He's been in the hospital for almost a week now. They can't keep his fever down ... and they can't control his pain. I don't know what they can do for him at this point.
I'm afraid of what comes next. I'm afraid of that day ... the day that the person who was there for so many amazing moments will just be gone. And I'm afraid because even though I am good at fixing things ... I don't know how to make this better ...
When you get what you want, but not what you need
When you feel so tired, but you can't sleep
Stuck in reverse
Coldplay - Fix You