I picked my grandparents up from Midway airport at 12:30 last night. Their flight was delayed, and apparently only a night owl like me was willing to drive around at that hour. They were returning from the wedding of their sixth grandchild. While in Colorado, they spent time with other children and grandchildren, celebrating the love between two young people. In a sense, they gained a grandchild over the weekend. But in reality, they actually lost one.
"Teddy was there. Oh he's such a good kid," she told me from the back seat as we went down Cicero avenue. "And your cousin Nathan, he was an usher. But he fainted during the ceremony!"
"Uh oh!" I smiled as she told me the weekend's stories.
"And your cousin Nick, he wasn't feeling up to par."
"Nick wasn't feeling good? Was he sick?"
"Yeah, he wasn't feeling well."
She knew that something was wrong, but she didn't know how wrong it actually was.
A couple days ago, my cousin Nick committed suicide. He was 20 years old. A couple days after the wedding, he and some of our family went to Yellowstone National Park. He jumped off a 300 foot cliff. His siblings, parents, uncles and cousins were there when it happened.
And now we're here. The family doesn't even know what to feel. I don't know what to feel. "Sad" isn't even a strong enough word. A mixture of confusion, desperation and devastation is flowing through the veins of every cousin, aunt and family member in my family.
Some of us found out yesterday. Some found out today, like me and my grandma. And some, namely the grandchild who is currently on his honeymoon, may not find out for another few weeks.
I write about death a lot, but when it actually touches you on the shoulder to remind you of how close it really is, words spoken seem trivial. There are no words to compliment death. But it hit a little close to home when I wrote "from dust we came, to dust we return" yesterday.
I wish I could have talked to him before he left. I wish I could have told him that he's not alone. Other family members wish other things. We're all helpless though. What's done is done. And we grieve a beautiful life lost. Nick was such a precious person. In his brief time here, he was always welcome in the world. Always welcome in the family.
There will be no talk of Heaven or Hell today. If you want to know what I think of that, read yesterday's post. Today, I am concerned with something that really happened. I am troubled by reality. This is no time for fairy tales.
All we can do now is support and love each other. It is no one's fault, and there's nothing we could have done. Nick made a choice, it was his to make. We can only mourn him now. Questions are on hold. Answers never. Prayer throughout. This is not a story. This is the reality we have to confront today.
Goodbye Nick. Thank you for your life.