On the one year anniversary of my cousin’s death, his older sister wrote that the French version of “I miss you”, translates to, “you are missing from me.” She shared that this is how she feels about her little brother since his passing. He is missing from our lives. And while the pain dulls a bit as time passes, it never really goes.
A few weeks after he passed my mother and I were listening to music in my car as we drove around. I loved having her living nearby for the first time in my adult life because on days when she felt up to it, we would run our errands together. Sometimes it was picking up groceries or medicine for her, and sometimes it was just getting her out of the house for fresh air.
We would explore the area where I live and we’d listen to music, talk, and sometimes reminisce. One afternoon in particular a song came on that I told her reminded me of my cousin and how much he is missing from us. I vocalized that while I knew there wasn’t really anything we could do to stop him from ending his life, the guilt will always remain. I pondered aloud, “Like, I know it wouldn’t have mattered, but shouldn’t I have put more work in to make sure he knew that he was also loved by me? I can’t remember the last time I told him I loved him. Maybe his sister’s wedding. That was two years ago. That’s not enough.”
I cried as the lyrics of the song filled the car. My mom reached out and held my hand. We’d pulled over into a KFC parking lot and together wept as the song danced around us.
“I will stay with you tonight.
Hold you close till the morning light.
Morning watch a new day rise.
Do whatever just to stay alive.
Do whatever just to stay alive.
There is a truth and it’s on our side.
Dawn is coming, open your eyes.
Look into the sun as a new day’s rise.”
Even now I can’t hear this song without thinking of my cousin. Making sure those who are hurting and lonely and afraid know they’re not alone and they are loved is part of my life’s mission. But, here there was a family member, a cousin who was often more like a brother to me, and he felt all those things. And he slipped away. And I can’t forgive myself for it, even if I know and respect that this was his choice and what he wanted.
As my mother and I listened to that song and cried together in my car, a nagging thought at the back of my head said, “What song will you hear that makes you think of her when she has passed away?” I pushed this thought way down because I couldn’t accept the possibility that my mom might die. When she was first diagnosed with stage 4b uterine cancer they gave her less than six months. I rejected this notion and from the get-go pushed for treatment and hope and prayer and faith. At the end of it all she lived for 17 months after her diagnosis. It was considered miraculous that her body and her spirit held out that long.
But, at the end of the day, she died. And my cousin died. And for them, dawn didn’t come. At one point they closed their eyes and never opened them again. They both did the best they could to stay alive and it still wasn’t quite enough.
They are missing from me. And they will never not be missed.