February 29, 2012

Hard To Say

I've only had the opportunity to blog on Leap Day twice before today in my blog's history, and I was surprised to find out that I actually did blog on both those days...mostly because I used to blog a lot more regularly. So doing it today probably makes it the most consistent thing I've ever done here. There's an exception to every rule, isn't there?

I had planned to finally do my post on how I condition my hair following my baking soda cleansing revelation and the subsequent questions in the comments, but it's once again not to be. (If I'm not careful it's going to become the One Ping Only equivalent of Kimmel's No-Time-For-Matt-Damon gag...) Unfortunately, it's not for a particularly happy reason.

This past weekend, my cousin, Michael, died while on vacation in Hawaii. He had been scuba diving and something happened (I don't know what, so I'm not going to speculate or elaborate), and his body was deprived of oxygen too long for him to survive. It was sudden and stunning and so, so saddening. Coming just a year and a half after losing my mom (almost to the day), it is just so hard to comprehend and digest.

Michael was the last person left who had known me all my life. He stepped up and was so there for me and my brother when Mom died; he was never more than a phone call away and he made sure we knew we mattered to him. He wasn't one to talk about that kind of thing, but there was no doubt in my mind that if I needed him in any way, he would be there.

He had a special place in our lives because, when I was 7 or 8, and he was 18 or 19, he moved from New Jersey to California and came to live with my family while he got settled. I remember feeling like I knew what it was to have an older brother for a while. Though we moved back east within a couple years, he had an influence on me during that time. It was from him that I got my love of classic rock, because that's what he listened to and I just absorbed it, and I can never think of Dan Fogelberg without thinking of Michael because he had a t-shirt from one of his concerts that he used to wear all the time. I remember talking to him about how sad it was that Fogelberg had died so young just a few years ago. This is especially hard to remember right now because Michael was a year younger at the time of his death than Fogelberg was.

My mother was especially close to him, as he was her first nephew, and she was really involved in the early years of his life. I think it always meant a lot to him that she provided a place for him to go when he needed a fresh start and she was always in his corner. There was the typical amount of family drama to contend with over the years, but there was an unbreakable bond there that mattered. When we moved back to California, it was a comfort to have him nearby and more a part of our lives again.

He wasn't a perfect guy, by any means -- his smoking drove me bonkers but I was so proud of him when he quit a few years ago and stuck to it -- and he had a weird fondness for gnomes that left me scratching my head, but he was honest, caring, and a good guy, and I thought the world of him.

I'm going to miss you terribly, Michael. You left your mark and you won't be forgotten.