No Training Wheels For This
Last year around this time, we were heading for Arizona for my mom's 80th birthday celebration. It was a fun day, busy and exhausting but lots of fun, seeing familiar faces from the past. A couple of friends from my teenager years, who spent many hours in my house and around Mom, made the trip to wish her well, and then there were her friends, and family.
My cousin's daughter didn't make it, although there were plenty missing. Still, I wish she had, just so I could meet her. Have met her. She was murdered not long after, by an acquaintance, her body dumped in a local lake and only found recently, but everyone knew. Arrests have been made, justice served, grief doing what grief does, and here I sit.
Family is an odd subject for me, having been distant for decades, way up here in the corner of the country. I grew up in a small one, but family was important and all were in the area, so my childhood was spent around mostly these connections, cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, all gathering to mark a birthday or graduation or holiday, or just because.
Now my cousin's kid, who was also my cousin (and colloquially really my niece), is gone, snuffed out, a short life that I never knew. I ponder this. I ponder my four cousins, their unfamiliar spouses and children, their unfamiliar lives. I'm not sure it's compelling or just provocative, but I think about it. Ponder ponder.
The cousin I've been closest to, 10 years younger, has been pretty solidly on the east side of the country for a long time. An Army elite musician, he joined up around 20 years ago and seems to really enjoy the military life, at least in the rarefied air he breathes (lots of state funerals and White House events), and in the past few years he seems to have become an avid BMX racer. It's an odd hobby to me but so are all the other ones except mine. It seemed as though he was having fun.
And he took a spill a couple of days ago, just on a practice track, helmet on, everything on I assume, and now he can't move his legs. Spinal fracture, other fractures. The news is grim, although hope is alive and it has to stay that way. I'm hopeful. Worried. All things, really.
So this is going to be my day, I guess, picturing an ICU on the other side of the country, and thinking about random events and what lies ahead, and how much of it I won't see coming.