This week, our family suffered a devastating loss. My youngest cousin on my mom’s side died at the young age of 30. I can’t even begin to describe this loss. It is something I haven’t ever had to deal with because truth be told, our family hasn’t experienced many untimely losses. We have lost grandparents, yes, but this just seems more raw, unchartered, and almost unbearable.
Cody was the “baby” in the family. As the last cousin, he took to the role of charmer and cutie in the blink of an eye. I really don’t remember the exact time it was that I realized that this boy just meant something different to me. I love all of my cousins and am so fortunate to have had a lifetime of memories with them, but with him…it was just different. I know he knew this too. He had this infectious giggle that made people crave hearing it over and over. He had a smile that lit up his face and could make you melt. As we got older and everyone started having their own families, it was natural that we didn’t see each other as often. I can’t tell you the last time I saw him, but I know it was years ago. I am so sad we let that happen.
As cousins, we were so lucky growing up. I was going through pictures and it dawned on me how fortunate we all were to have had the family we did and spend all of the time together we did. Holidays, vacations, graduations, weddings…we were always together. I loved that most pictures were taken at a holiday and we were usually all sitting at the kids table. I also love that even in our twenties, we still demanded a kids table so that we could all be together. And I think I have my Aunt Leath, Cody’s mom, to thank for always saying, “Okay, we need to get a cousins picture before everyone leaves,” because now Noelle and I and all our other cousins have these memories to hold on to and remember. It is almost a suffocating need to have them now that he is gone.
I spent a couple of hours at my Mom’s pouring through pictures to find some for my Aunt to use. That was the hardest thing I think I have ever had to do. Knowing that the next time we were all together, we would be one less…unimaginable. We often joked that the next time we would all see each other was at somebody’s wedding, trying to guess who that might be…because funny enough, all the boy cousins are still single. It would have never occurred to us that it would be for this. I feel this overwhelming need to be around them. I need to see everyone and sit together, and cry together, and laugh together because together we will be stronger and help each other through this. So, we will meet at our kids table next week and share stories and memories, hoping that brings us peace when it is needed the most.
My all time favorite picture of him. I don't know why, but it is. The other day I went through four albums and three boxes until I found it.
Noelle, Cody and I.
That hugging...lasted for years.
I think this was at Pixie Woods.
With my grandparents.
Hello kids table!
One of my absolute favorites.