A few days ago, my cousin George died of a brain aneurysm. He was watching TV with his wife, Karen, and felt nauseous. As she drove him to the nearby hospital, he died. One minute he was there; one minute later, he was gone. He was only 51 years old, leaving two grown kids (Alexis and Mike) and his precious grandchildren along with the rest of us family. Like his father, John, who died fairly young himself; George was hard-working, salt-of-the-earth and always smiling.
It hit me hard because in recent times, George emailed me frequently to tell me about how happy he was, with his wife and kids, how his siblings were doing and chat about life in general. He was telling me how his family would celebrate Thanksgiving, and was very optimistic-as usual-about his life. My aunt/his mother, Evelyn had died earlier in the year, and the family had already had their fair share of tragedy. And now, the loss of the oldest of seven siblings. The rock, the guy that everyone knew and liked. It truly leaves me speechless.
Though I don't know the details of his diagnosis, I knew someone else in my past who also died young of an aneurysm. She was a doctor, and her parents were both doctors of a local baseball team in my hometown. She just died suddenly, leaving a husband and children behind. Even a medical professional had no forewarning, so that blew my mind how hard to predict these fatal conditions are.
This horrible experience has truly opened my eyes about life, and how fragile it is. Even big, strong guys like George can pass on at a young age. He was so full of life, of optimism and love for his family. Life isn't fair, but it's the only one we have (well, as far as I know, anyways). Every day I talk to people on the phone, who have severe illness, disability or other problems. It has shown me how daily inconviences like burning dinner, a flat tire or breaking a high-heel isn't important in the grand scheme of things. Instead of grumbling about these things, focusing in the positive improves our outlook on life. We have lungs that work, hearts that beat, and people that love us. It's our responsibility to make our lives as full and pleasant as possible, since it can all be gone in an instant.
So, rest in peace, cousin George. Your short life was a complete and total success because you made it that way, and now we mourn your tragic loss. I'll miss your emailed updates on your family, and the email jokes we sent back and forth. I'm sure you're up in heaven, with your mom and dad. You may be physically gone, but none of us will ever forget you. Your love and kindness carries on with your children and grandchildren. Knowing you was a true honor for us all.