Today Jack would have been 25. Jack is my cousin. I hate it when people say 'was'. I can't see how he is not my cousin now. It's been almost 8 years since he died at 17. Tragic will never describe the truth. That part of my family has never been the same. Ever since, there seems to be an unspoken pain in the chest. Nobody wants to talk about it, yet can't escape the subject. Today we all call each other and say "Hi". We chat about nothing, just making sure everyone is ok. But there is a heaviness in our speech. We know why we are calling. We feel each others pain. The pain never really goes away does it? It seems to me that we learn to ignore the pain, but it's always there.
Jack was the first person I lost in my life. Although I never really lost him. I know where he is... "Do not stand here and cry for me because I am not here. I do not sleep."
6 years after he died, I remember being in the room and sitting next to my Grandpa's bed as he took his last breathe. Nia was laying her head on my and Cyenna was nursing. My Grandma, his wife of 50+ years, at his side holding his hand. My mom at his other hand. We prayed and told him we loved him. Then he finally took his last breathe.
6 months later, my Grampy lay in a hospice bed, much like that of my Grandpas, alzheimers having eaten away at him for years, and watched him struggle to live. It was like he was afraid to leave my Granny. Or maybe afraid that she wouldn't be able to take the lead as she did for the 60+ years they were married. He suffered tremendously in the last moments. It was hell.
5 months later Jack's mom, my aunt, had a massive stroke and had a living will, that was executed. As much as I think what happened with her was pure and utter nonsense, the way she was mishandled by those surrounding her or that the people around her were leeches, I know that my aunt was finally at peace because she knew she was on her way to meet her son again. She still had a voice recording of Jack that she listened to often. This was a woman I wanted to be as a child. And I saw her lay there and suffer. A woman who gave her whole life. Perfect, not a chance... But where's the fun in perfection?
You might wonder why I have this picture here (stolen from my sister, thanks Kel). Growing up, we used to run around the farm seeing who could find the most 4 leaf clovers. My Granny would have a bowl of water for each of us to place our 4 leaf clovers in when we were 'finished'. Sometimes I would find 17 or 18 at a time. It is a happy memory from my childhood, one of many. Laying in the sun, for hours searching for them. Kelli and Jack laughing in the background, me intent on finding the most! Grampy and Granny would be sitting on the porch or the driveway waiting til we were done.
When I go back home, I have a tremendous amount of sadness as I visit a lot of gravesites and feel a lot of emptiness.
I stopped looking for 4 leaf clovers after Nia was born. I found her.
I am going to go tuck in my babies and cuddle an extra few minutes tonight.