It's not funny at all how death makes you cling to the life you have and lives you love more than ever before. On St. Patrick's Day this week, my cousin, Kyle, was killed in a head-on collision. It's so tragic and heartbreaking to type that. He was just twenty-three. Twenty-three. Kyle was the younger brother of one of my dearest girl cousins, Erin, the older brother of one of the first cousins I remember being born, Katie, and the son of my Aunt Annie, the best birthday-mate anyone could have. They and the love of his life, Lyndsie, knew him best so this little piece from me can only give you a glimpse at one of his many roles in life - the life of a cousin.
I've talked before about how I've always wanted a big family. Well, that desire was first born in a little city in Ohio where my dad grew up and where a good portion of my grandma's thirteen children still live. Obviously, as the middle child of three, I don't know firsthand what it is like to be from a big immediate family. I also only have a point of view from being #9 of 36 grandchildren so maybe it is different for the older ones and the little ones. (And most definitely different for the parents because I'm sure we drove them crazy). But, to me, Grandma's is magical. Grandma's means really hard, but really addictive oatmeal chocolate chip cookies baked by the wonderful woman herself. It means have a healthy fear of the freezer, but an even healthier fear of being disrespectful. It means peaceful walks down the lane, and gasping-for-air hikes up the lane. It means bounding from hay bale to hay bale as a warm up for a competitive game of Grandpa's legendary game, speedball. It means sitting on the bricks on the wood-burning stove until just before your bum is burned to a crisp, and then you are warm for the rest of your stay. It means trying to ignore the snakeskin proudly displayed in the dining room and forgetting about it once Swiss Family Robinson or Top Gun starts playing in the living room. It means raising your eyebrows at the algae covered fish-shaped pond and jumping in anyway. It means always having a playmate. We are rich in cousins and rich in memories, which, I think, makes this even harder.
He was an awesome cousin to have, strong enough to pull you out of the cracks between hay bales and good-natured enough to play the donkey in the annual Christmas play. At the state fair, our families would take turns competing for what was more like watching paint dry; they showed dairy cattle and we showed chickens. He was such a goof! Oh my, my cousins and I have laughed over some memories this sad week that just aren't bloggable, but they put a smile on our face thinking about goofy Kyle. When Kristina, my sister, first started dating her boyfriend, Kyle might have conducted a protective phone call. During Chris' first visit to G'ma C's, Kyle challenged my mighty boyfriend at the time to a wrestling match, and Kyle whooped his behind. He would make fun of you with the honesty only family can employ, but there was always a chuckle to go along with the jabs and prods. Once he started laughing, you couldn't help, but join in and laugh until you practically cry. Kyle and the rest of his family have that contagious laugh. He was such a needed and enjoyed part of our big, extended family.
This will be rough, but there is comfort in that it will be rough because he was a good one. A really good one.
We love you, Aunt Annie, Erin, Katie and Lyndsie.