It has been a long time since a family member died. I was 10 when my great-grandpa passed away. I clearly remember the veteran funeral as though it were yesterday. I also remember crying a bit. At the same time, I’ve come to realize he lived a good, long life. Death is sad, yet expected when the person is 83 years old.
Last night, I received a somber phone call from my brother telling me our 19-year-old cousin died in a head-on collision in Michigan. I was shocked and sad. First, I felt numb. It was like my brain froze and could only focus on the thought of our cousin dying violently in a car accident.
All I could say over and over was, “This is so sad.” It is sad. Most of all, it is shocking. This wasn’t an 83-year-old relative dying in the hospital from a stroke. A 19-year-old boy died due to the carelessness of another driver.
The only way I’ve been coping with my cousin’s death so far is reading the news report of the accident over and over again. The report stated that only one driver died after being trapped in his car.
My cousin was working his way through college with grand plans ahead of him, and someone put an end to that.
His mother posted the tragic news on Facebook this morning. Reading it was like hearing it all over again for the first time. People sent their prayers for comfort. I thought to myself, “Let them have their prayers if it consoles them.”
I don’t seek comfort in religion. I can’t buy that he’s in Heaven with God, and that his death was planned by God. None of that makes sense to me. What makes sense is he’s dead because a careless driver wasn’t looking where he was going. Even when I did believe in God, I never found comfort in thinking my loved ones were with him.
We don’t pick when our time comes, and that has always bugged me. Death is one of those things out of our control, and it drives me nuts.
I also want to offer consoling words to his brothers who aren’t doing as well as he was with his education. I will not send prayers, but I will tell them this: “Please learn from his death, and spend as much time with your parents as possible. Seek out grief counseling if you need to. Don’t succumb to alcohol, drugs or reckless behavior, because your parents don’t want to bury any more of their children.”
I never thought our next family reunion would be a funeral, but I will be there. I hope my aunt, uncle and their sons can find a way to make their family whole again, as broken as they are now.