It was not my grandmother who died. Again.
It was not my father who died. Again.
It was not my brother who died. And, while not again, at least is dead to us.
No, it was my cousin. And it was my uncle. And it was my great-aunt. In quick succession. And, human as I am, it is really only the cousin who truly died "too young." Not too young as his brother, who died at the age of 9, walking his bike in a crosswalk, with the light, only to be felled by a city councilman running a red light and barely stopping to register a life taken too young.
No, the cousin was 57. Can I still think that 57 is "too young" to be taken while shaving to get ready for his high-powered job while his 10-year-old daughter was likely getting ready for another day of a so very boring 4th grade day of school.
And the uncle was 78. Not entirely unexpected, surely, but leaving behind such a full brood of six children and umpteen-number-of-grandchildren, and a wife of 56 years and rising.
And the great-aunt at 103? No one says that's too soon. But if you're the child or the grandchild or the great-grandchild, you feel the absence nonetheless.
It's been a hard three weeks for me. I've told my uncle that I will no longer take his calls. At the same time, I told my husband that the next call will surely be from his wife.
They're all gone. I don't believe they've gone somewhere better. But I do believe I am better for having the memories of a cousin who carved a way for those younger and in awe; for an uncle who was my godfather who had a lilt in his eyes as he showed magical secrets when I was younger and who sent me a treasured tin piggy bank when I was ten; and for a great-aunt who treated me and mine as if we were all that and who showered my father with such affection.
I will remember you. I will treasure the memories of so many years gone by. And I will remember you in the prime of your lives -- and the prime of mine.