Again

He was always going where I couldn't go.

When we were little kids, there were weeks - probably months - when we saw each other every day.  To say that we played would be a ridiculous understatement.  We had the kind of freedom that kids today can't even begin to imagine.  We discovered the world and conquered it, with each tree we climbed, each wheelie we nailed, each creature we captured, and each city block we explored.  He could always climb higher, hold the wheelie longer, ride faster, go further than me.  He always had the best games, the best toys, and the coolest adventures.  He shared all of that with me thoughtlessly, casually.  He brought me along and slowed down to wait for me, and it never made him crazy.  He saved me from bullies at school and wouldn't let the mean boys keep me out of their games.  He had so much patience for me.

I must have been at least five before I realized that I was an only child.  It took his family moving away to really convince me that I didn't have two mums, two sisters and two brothers.  At least, not yet.  For awhile, it seemed like I had two homes, too.

In separate schools, in different cities, bad things happened to us.  He was fearless, reckless, got hurt over and over again.  I was bookish, fearful, and got hurt anyway.  We grew up and lost track of each other.  He drank a lot, lived a lot, loved with his whole heart, and lost so much.

When I heard that he became an iron worker, I thought, "Of course, he did.  Those guys hang off of huge iron beams with welding fire and heavy equipment all over the place.  Really, what else would he do?"

When I heard that he became a father, I thought, "That's awesome!  He will be the best dad, the most fun dad, that any kid could ever want."

My cousin Jeff died on Saturday morning in a motorcycle accident.  I can't tell you what I thought when I heard that he died, because a huge black hole opened up in the world where he used to be, and it filled with nothing but pain.  There was no room for thought.

Faster and further and fearless and reckless, he's left us all behind again.  But when he was here?  Man, did he ever live.

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