My cousin Rick

September 4, 2009. Last night I received the devastating news that my cousin Rick was killed in an accident. I hadn’t seen him in years, since we were kids running around with other cousins, outside and through the basement recreation room, while the adults played cards upstairs.

Last year he called me out of the blue, to congratulate me on my published books, and to catch up, as much as we could over a long conversation. He asked me to attend the upcoming annual family reunion in Minnesota. I almost did, yet at the last minute bowed out due to my workload. In the back of my mind, I figured there was always the family reunion next year. Also I’d invited Rick to visit me any time in Chicago, so I might see him in the meantime.

A couple days ago I was searching through my e-mails for a specific one, and I came upon my follow-up e-mail to Rick, the one after our phone conversation, thanking him for getting back in touch with me. It was within 24 hours after stumbling upon that e-mail, that I heard the news my cousin Rick was dead.

Gone. I won’t be able to see him face to face for that initial “hello!” hug after not having seen each other in years. And that lesson wielded itself again to my stunned self – some things you put in your pocket for later don’t stay there, some precious, precious things.

It would be useless for me to beat myself up over it, and cousin Rick, the upbeat, energetic and big-hearted man, would not want that. What I can do is learn from this, and reach out to family members. That’s what I’m doing today and upcoming days in his honor. And in his honor, I’ll remember and act upon that valuable lesson.

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