My cousin who grew up in NY gave up a great career along with his elderly parents to be with the woman he loved in Melbourne. They had met online and decided to get married shortly thereafter. It was a long distance relationship that ended like fairytales are supposed to. It proved when the person is right, continents turn trivial. He was to us living a fantastic romantic ideal - atleast until last week when he died at age twenty nine.
When I heard, I felt incomprehension. How could that be possible ? Surely they were talking of someone else. How does anyone die of bronchitis in this day and age ? After being ill for several months in Melbourne he came home to NY but it turned out to a little too late. After spending two weeks in the hospital he died.
I remembered the sound of his laughter, the smile that lit up his face and his favorite couch where he sat watching baseball games. When I was going through the worst in my marriage and needed help to bail out, he was there for me. I spent Thanksgiving day with his family, J was only a few months old. He dropped us off at the airport when we were coming home to India. He was better with car seats than I was.
None of these memories are very old and yet his sudden death has blurred every last detail. It is probably my defense against pain. At times like this I want to believe that both life and death are only illusions and neither state is permanent, that somewhere in Australia my cousin is still happy, alive and well; married to the woman he loves - nothing has really changed. I know I will not be offering condolences to his parents because I cannot bear to see their pain. The tears will writhe and coil inside but not be cried until I have the strength to accept loss.