2017 is here, and my cousin is gone.
In this shadow of this news, it is paltry to talk about the shiny newness of another twelve months and what they could hold. I was ready, very ready, to bid adieu to 2016, a year of deep highs and lows. Not all bad by any means, but a year that was for me filled with far too much sadness and uncertainty on a personal and global level.
And now, at the dawn of a New Year and in a time of resolving and planning and dreaming, the news comes from home that this is not a year that my cousin and I will continue to walk this earth together.
Separated by distance but joined by blood and memories, I always imagined our paths would connect and intersect more frequently after I moved home, after we both settled down, grew up, had kids, planned family reunions.
The memories from childhood are so strong: the Easter egg hunts in Memaw’s backyard. The forced participation in musicals/Thanksgiving plays/Christmas pageants (enforced by me, the
cousin dictator Director). The brown tunic I sewed cotton balls onto for the Christmas sheep costume. The vivid Power Rangers reenactments, with Western cowboy-style lariats received as Christmas gifts repurposed as Mighty Morphin portals for Power Ranger transformation. The tire swing Uncle Steve hung in the front yard. Exploring down by the creek. Family reunions at Highland Lake, and the black eyes from heads colliding while we jumped on the bed. Seeing Toy Story for the first time. “Hiding from cars” in the new apartment complex as Mallard Creek began to develop and change around us. Learning to drive in Aunt Eileen’s van, and being applauded by Stevie and Diana when I finally made it over 10mph.
There are so many memories from the sweet years that were our childhood, and I am so angry that we don’t get to create any more.
This is not a pain I can be numb to, and as much as I want to, am incapable of not feeling the tangible agony of having a life snuffed out far too soon.
There is no silver lining, no tentative thread of meaning to be pulled from a tragedy like this. Only deep, deep grief and the torturous burden of questions that will never be answered.
Stevie, my darling cousin, there was so much life left for you to see here with us. Your sweet spirit was in everything you did, and you loved your crazy girl cousins with unquestioning, implicit devotion. I should not be writing about your death, and you should still be here, and there should be an untold amount of memories left for us to create as family, with our own families.
Only a few days ago I finished out 2016 at a beautiful festival on the Sunshine Coast, surrounded by music and art and friends. It was a perfect way to usher in a new year, and late one night underneath the Queensland summer sky, I sang to my friends the song we sang to our Dads when it was late, we were overtired and resisting the threat of bedtime, if even for a few more minutes:
We’re the little fairies,
dancing in the moonlight,
we’re the little fairies,
dancing in the moonlight.
Over and over, around and around, visit after visit. We sang, sometimes they sang with us, and bedtime always came.
Stevie, you are everywhere around us now. You are the dance and you are the moonlight. We mourn you and miss you and wail at the loss of your young life, but the memories remain.
Be in peace.