It’s pretty damn hard to be funny when a member of your family just died. It’s especially a bitch, and not the least bit ironic, when he was the funniest person I knew on the planet.
I just got back from saying goodbye to my cousin, a man who was only 11 days younger than me, a man so full of promise that I have to stop myself from vomiting when I think of what a ridiculous loss this world has just experienced.
Sam was the best storyteller—he had absolute killer comedic timing and always knew when to pause for effect. I’d like to say it runs in the family, but no, he pretty much blasted us all in the charisma category. We’d gather around him like camp kids around a bonfire. At our Nonna’s funeral, he told us a story of when our Uncle Peter—a man who so thoroughly butchers the English language that he puts Honey Boo Boo to shame—yelled at him for dumping his toys on the floor.
“Seh! Done putta onna flo no mo!”
Translation: Sam, don’t put those on the floor anymore.
We really could have used Sam to cheer us up at his funeral.
But this is the year that Sam didn’t get to live. His death is as arbitrary as any other. No one would’ve guessed this would have happened last year, sitting around at a typical family gathering, taking each other’s presence for granted. But it would be the last time we were all together in one room. We probably bitched at one another, we did a fair bit of drinking. We stuffed our faces, we gorged, we yelled at the TV. We let time slip through our fingers and we didn’t appreciate how wonderful it is to drink and eat and yell at one another all together in one room.
We’ll never be all together in one room again.
This is the year that was supposed to be better than last year. The year that started full of promise, even with the dark cloud of Sam’s illness looming. We thought positive thinking and prayer and strength could overcome it. Even when we knew better, we didn’t believe it. But on a Wednesday afternoon he took his last breath and our family will never be the same.
Sam and I were the same age, but he won’t see 34 this May like I will. What will I do with this year that I was given, that was taken away from him? I feel tasked with something, like I can’t just sit here and live my life anymore because I was given this year, and he was not. I can’t just let the minutes and hours and days pass and move on with my life as it was before because it’s not as it was before. A man who helped me become the person I am today has no more minutes and hours and days. No more years. And he should have had years and years and years.
What do I do with this time, this time that most 33-year-olds assume is theirs for the taking? Do I seize it or do I mourn it? Because why do I get these minutes and hours and days and years when he does not? What, exactly, have I done to deserve it?
I don’t have an answer for that and I may never have one. But I plan to spend the rest of my minutes and hours and days and years trying to figure that out. And if I can ever find a reason why I should be here when he is not, well, I’ll be sure and let you know.