My Cousin

May 6, 2014
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My cousin Carlos always had the deepest passion for cars. He loved being under the hood of cars, helping people with their cars, going to car shows. His favorite types of cars were hot rods and low riders. Basically if there were cars or food involved my cousin would be there. In 2010 my cousin Carlos was only sixteen years old when he was diagnosed with lymphoma. This was a very hard battle on him. And sadly the journey was only going to get tougher on him.

In 2011 Carlos was starting to get back to a normal routine and get back into school, getting his license and was officially on the hunt to find what would be the perfect car. Carlos’ dad knew his brother had a very nice 1967 Chevy short bed and so he told Carlos about it hoping maybe that would be the car Carlos wanted. Come to find out when they go see Carlos’ uncle he had sold it unfortunately. But Carlos’ luck hadn’t run out quite yet. His uncle had something that was even better he had a 1963 Chevy short bed that was a little dirty and scuffed up but Carlos did not care at all. He had officially fallen in love. Carlos’ uncle had let him start it up to hear what the truck sounded like and at that point Carlos was sold on it. “I put the key in and turned the truck fired right up it sounded flawless everything was timed right no bog or anything I left it running and got out it sounded even better on the out side[sic] you can feel the lug of cam in your chest and that sent chills down my neck and back I walked around the truck looking at every part [sic] of it my tio rev’d[sic] the engien [sic] and made me jump” Seeing how much Carlos had fallen in love with the truck his uncle did what he thought was best and gave Carlos the truck. Carlos and his dad’s jaws dropped. They were speechless and so thankful towards Carlos’ uncle for giving him the truck.

In 2012 Carlos was in recovery. Everyone had caught onto hope thinking the doctors had caught the cancer but it only got worse. Carlos’ lymphoma came back as leukemia. Something like this actually was not something that was too common. Basically all this boiled down to was Carlos having to start over on a battle he had already thought he had won. Come June I was traveling back to California from Arizona and I remember it like it was yesterday. My grandma called my mom saying Carlos officially passed away from cancer. He was only 17; he didn’t even get to graduate high school. The news hit my family very hard. But if there is anything I learned from having to deal with this, is that family is in it together for better or worse. But it would take time for wounds to heal.

The biggest part of my cousin passing that I remember is the funeral. It was the summer, which meant it was very hot. The only way to describe the funeral would be heart shattering. From the moment the funeral ended I lost it as did everyone else who came to pay their respects. I remember the time of the burial you could hear every single tear being had. All of Carlos’ teammates from football were in their uniforms crying. It sounded like a thousand tears to me. That was one of the saddest things I have ever heard. I remember seeing my cousin’s parents and brother driving up to the burial place in my Carlos’ truck. I could not believe they had the strong will do something like that on the day they are saying goodbye to their brother/son. During the time of the burial I saw Carlos’ mom bawl her eyes out. You could tell that she was wishing that she could be doing anything else. I felt so bad that she was dehydrated on one of the hottest days of the year and was having to say goodbye to her son. When the time came to hug the family, people were in a line that went for as long as a mile.

Come August people were starting to have fundraisers for my cousin’s family. One of the events that stood out to me was “Cruise for Carlos.” The reason for this event in particular was anyone who knew Carlos knew that the best way to remember him would be with cars. “Cruise for Carlos” was an event that every family member who wanted to part take drove around in their old school cars which included everything from low riders to hot rods to bikes and went for a cruise around Sacramento and by the night everyone was invited for dinner, dancing and to keep Carlos’ memory alive.

The ways of raising money was selling food and t-shirts. My family helped my cousin’s brother and parents anyway they could. It could have been anything from a hug and trying to comfort them to buying a t-shirt. My family will forever be with my cousin’s parents and brother as it still is to this day a tough thing for them to still wrap their heads around that their son/brother isn’t with them anymore. My cousin’s brother still has a hard time even thinking about the fact he doesn’t have his brother with him anymore, but there is always family that will surround him with love that will hopefully keep him strong.

If there is anything I learned from the experience of losing such a young family member is that family is there no matter what. My cousin’s family will always be forever grateful for every t-shirt that was sold to every hug they received that is what will make them stronger and my family stronger as we pass the years he is no longer with us. I believe that for my cousin being so young that he made a significant impact on my family. I remember my cousin’s godfather reading a message that Carlos wrote while he was sick and the ending of that message still sticks with me. The message said “So now i basicaly[sic] have to start over and do it all again and im makeing[sic] good progress so far everything is going to plan so keep praying and keep thinking positive for me as i do and everything should be ok thanks for all support thahave[sic] given my family and given me just keep thinking postive [sic].” The fact he was so positive about having to go through cancer again after he had already done it one time still amazes me to this day because people who are a lot older than him and have to battle cancer are usually not so positive like Carlos was. My cousin will always be a thought in my mind. If I ever go through something that is even in the littlest bit scary I hope that I can have as much positivity that my cousin had.

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