My cousin Ash was killed last week due to causes still unknown. And even with a vast array of emotions, it’s just so hard to say that he’s gone. We lost two of his brothers 8 years ago and still my family mourns. I’m learning that death is such a peculiar thing, because from one second to the next life can be gone. I saw Ash last, two months ago. We live in different countries, circumstances happen and I almost didn’t make that trip. So he hugged me so much when he saw me. He wanted to know about everyone and everything from back home. Did such and such still live there? And if I remembered so and so? And we just laughed so much. I said, “Ash, it’s been 15 years since I saw you last.” He said, “Cuz has it been that long?”
Sigh. It had been. We were with a friend of his that he introduced me to, and we had such a hilarious time filling her in on memories of our family, sharing things that we had missed with each other. He told us that things hadn’t always turned out as he wanted them to. But that he was turning things around. He said, “I’ve got so many plans Cuz. But, you don’t tell people what you’re going to do. You show them.” And I agreed with him. Then he said to me, “Where are you going next? And I laughed and asked, “what do you mean?” He said to me, “Every time I check I swear you’re in a different place Cuz. You’re always going somewhere, you need to buy a plane.” And we both cracked up laughing. But then he continued, “You’re right. Live your life.”
I remember this as if it just happened this morning. My cousin was such an enlightened being. He had a deeper consciousness of life. He spoke about working for what you wanted, the hustle, the dream, the reality. We spoke about truth. We spoke so much about family. We spoke about loss. And we spoke of love. Because really what is any of these without the other? With him gone though, I realize even more so the depth of it all. We dream big dreams and we make plans. And always there’s a greater plan for us despite any we make for ourselves.
My cousin died and he was 39 years old. He still had plans. He has a niece that needed her uncle, a mother that was down to just one son, friends that will miss him and a family that will see him on. Ash wanted to make something of himself. He wanted to come back home and see the places and people he had missed. He didn’t get the latter but the former, I know he already accomplished. He didn’t have a swanky job, or car, he didn’t have a big title. But he was kind and those who knew him loved him. He didn’t have to make something, he was already someone. I know I didn’t expect to go back to St. Croix so soon. But then again, I didn’t expect many things. I was on my way to the airport when he called me. He told me to give everyone his love and that he was coming soon. I told him that we loved him too and to hurry up.
Now we’ll come and see you instead Ash. There’s a photo I took of you where you’re standing on the ledge up at Point Udall. We had both been standing up there until I jumped down and called your name to take your photo. You turned halfway and gave me a thumbs up. I look at that photo now and it just looks as if you’re suspended in the air. As if you’re a part of the clouds and sky. And it makes me feel as if you’re not really gone but still here and a part of something bigger. You told me to live my life. I can’t forget that. I may never own a plane but I’ll keep going places, after all that’s how come I got to see you.
Please take the time to appreciate your life. Appreciate both what you have and don’t have. Be appreciative of the people who are there and aren’t there. Life sometimes feels stagnant, but always it is moving. And always it is gone quicker than we ever realized it was here. There are mass shootings, there is illness, there are coincidences, circumstances and quirks of fate. You never know which breath will be your last or what conversations will lay unfinished. We are not immortal, nothing lasts forever and we are most certainly fragile. Appreciate it all. Enjoy, live, love while you can.
You’re going to lose some folks along the way. And one day, someone will lose you. And you just don’t know when you’ll see them again.