On Thursday morning, my mother called to tell me that my cousin Danny passed away. He'd been walking home from a bar late at night, and was hit by a car while crossing the street. He was 32 years old.
I wasn't sure I wanted to share this news here, but pretending it didn't happen feels wrong. Danny and I weren't very close - we caught up once or twice a year during family get-togethers, and the last time I saw him was the Christmas before last. Still, he was family. I looked forward to seeing him, to finding out what he'd been up to. He was always laid back, down to earth, funny. I don't have any older siblings, don't have any brothers of my own, and so whenever our families got together, I followed him around and hung on his every word, fascinated by his very existence. He could have told me to get lost, leave him alone, stop being so annoying. He never did. He was a good kid, and he grew up to be a good man.
The funeral is today, on Long Island, but I didn't go. School, money, travel, time. Typing out such paltry excuses makes me feel guilty, but there they are. Instead, I sent flowers and spent the weekend in tears, trying to get used to this new version of the world, a version in which Danny no longer exists. We won't catch up this Christmas over plates of our grandmother's lasagna. We won't take shots of Southern Comfort at the next wedding. We won't roll our eyes when our Uncle makes stupid jokes. Our family will still gather a few times a year but now, and for the rest of our lives, Danny will always be missing.
This is the part of the story where I'm supposed to learn something from this tragedy. Ask you to tell your loved ones that you care about them, make time for your family, cherish the moments you spend together because you never know which one will be your last. I'm not going to say those things. If I had another chance, I wouldn't call Danny on the phone. I wouldn't send him weekly emails about my life. I wouldn't try to make our relationship something else.
I liked it the way it was, and I'm really going to miss him.