This weekend, a memorial service was held for my eldest cousin.
I didn’t know him well. He was 15 years older than me. I didn’t see him as often over the years as I have my other extended (and extensive) family.
Without going into details, I will say that his last years were not easy ones. He suffered from alcoholism and it was this disease that finally killed him. My heart was hardened against him, knowing the difficulties he had inflicted on his children and his siblings as they all struggled to help him.
But in conversation with that same family during the memorial, I remembered that he was more than that lost man. For all that he was stubborn, he was also giving. He had deep capacity for both joy and despair. Many of my other cousins, closer in age to him, have fond memories of growing up with him, describing him as a big brother figure in their lives.
In the throes of his disease, he caused much suffering. But during that same period, he also managed to reach out to one of his sons in a time of need.
So many different stories. So many different memories. So many different facets of one simple, complicated, tragic, utterly normal life.
In the end, perhaps all we are is an amalgam of the stories of how we touched people. Who we loved, who we helped, who we hurt. Every sunrise brings another chance to write a new story. Together those stories give our lives shape and brilliance.
This weekend polished my facet of forgiveness, which I had let tarnish. Thank you for that, Brad. Rest in peace, dear cousin.
iPhones and sunset/sunrise photos are not always easy. But this was the rather spectacular
January sunrise on the day I learned of my cousin’s death. Blurry or not, it seemed the right photo to share.