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Letter to the Deceased
The last time I saw you, really, was Thanksgiving; Amy and Jill and I were down in Grandma's basement, working on that crazy puzzle she'd told us to finish, and playing pinball in hopes of reaching 150,000 points, because you'd promised us $5 for each time we did.
That was the night Tim got drunk and left me with a tender, purple lump on my shoulder and an even larger bruise on my heart, where I'd still held onto the crazy notion that he was the same guy he'd been before the Army. It was stupid, thinking he'd just come back and be our favorite cousin again, and not have been changed in any way. Yet, when you saw what he'd done to us, it became your mission to play bodyguard, to hide his drink and replace it with plain Red Bull, to stay downstairs with us all night instead of going out to the bonfire with the rest of the college kids.
I left the next day without thanking you, without even really saying goodbye.
Two weeks later, we got the call that you'd been hit by a car. They called an "accident". Drunk driving is never an accident. It was murder.
Nothing really sunk in, that night. In my head, you were still at your house, with Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Frank and Amy and Matt and Jill. You were in your bedroom playing videogames or online talking to your friends. You weren't dead. You couldn't be!
I wish I hadn't been so selfish that weekend. Although I knew I should have been with your family, with my family, helping them through such hard times, I chose to go out Christmas shopping with my friends, to go see New Moon, which I didn't even like. I guess God was reminding me that family comes first when he sent my mom to the doors of the mall, forcing me to leave the theater mid-movie and rush to your house.
I remember how close we all got that night, when we broke into your safe and found your fireworks and porn, while you kept $1000 cash rolled up in your sock drawer. I remember sitting with Matt and really connecting with him for the first time since we were little kids, actually talking. I remember scrolling through your ipod and picking out songs to play with the slideshow, and facebook for the photos. I remember all the hugging, and the crying, and the numb disbelief.
I remember the wake, kneeling in front of your stone-cold body. It wasn't you, really. It was a shell…empty, hollow. I remember holding Amy's hand so tight that both our fingers went numb, and the gentle sound of sobs through her carefully-measured breaths. I couldn't cry. I don't know why, but I couldn't. I wish I did. I wanted to, so bad.
Instead of going to your funeral, I went to school and took an AP Biology test. I don't know why I did, because my parents were so disappointed. I just couldn't be there anymore, couldn't wallow in the grief any longer. It was too painful.
I ask God every day why he took you away from us, why he had to cause our family so much pain. I wish, more than anything, that I'd been just a bit more appreciative of you while you were here. You truly were one of the most genuinely kind people I've ever known, and I wish I could have thanked you for that.
More than anything, I wish you were here again, so I…so all of us…could just hug you and smile and talk and reminisce about all the good times we had.
Kevin…you are in our hearts forever.
I miss you more than I could have ever imagined while you were with us.
Thank you, for being such a wonderful cousin to me.