My cousin Allen passed away Sunday night after a courageous battle with cancer. Cancer sucks.
After hanging up with his son, who reminds me so much of Allen, I fought to suppress the natural way minds sometimes drift, trying not to put myself in their shoes…losing a father, a husband. I tried not to dwell on the questions that scream from deep within: Did I adequately express how grateful I was for all he did for me? Did he know how much I loved him? I tried not to feel guilty about not saying goodbye in person. Instead, I tried to focus on the memories, of which there are gratefully many.
I remember playfully smack talking with him while watching the UNC-FSU game. It was a surprise when I transferred to UF and started rooting with him. I remember the way he compassionately gave me a heads up about my great aunt’s Alzheimer’s after not having seen her for several years, softening the shock. I remember the way he opened his home to not only me, but also my friends when we needed a break from campus, and how he wouldn’t let us leave until we had packed a snack (or ten) for the road. And I remember, because he was so good at saying it, that he loved me.
Allen wasn’t a first cousin – we laughed over dinner as we attempted to figure out his title once…”Second cousin once removed…by marriage. Or something like that.” – but to Allen it didn’t matter how we were related; all that mattered is that we were.
Goodbye, Cousin Allen. I hope that in Heaven the Yankees always win.