Friday, April 13, 2012

Just Because Friday: My Hero

Last week, I posted about my divorce.
It was a super depressing topic, wasn't it?
This week, I want you to meet someone...

This is Kevin.
My late nephew.
He died in 2006.
I never told him how awesome I thought he was.

He was 18 when he died.
He was in a pretty gruesome car accident
which put him in a coma for three days.
If he had lived, he would have been a vegetable. 
He would not have been Kevin.

He loved his guitar.
And photography.
And Flogging Molly's music.

We got into so much trouble when we were kids.
(He was a year older than me.)
Like the time when we kept sneaking tastes of the cheesecake at Thanksgiving
so by the time dessert rolled around, there were a ton of little poke marks all over it.
Or the time when he tried to teach me how to rollerblade
and I fell on my butt.
A lot.
I got a bruise.
Or when we thought the word "butthole" was the funniest thing ever
and we would NOT stop saying it.
Or when we would play POKeMON for hours and hours and HOURS.

But there was a lot that I never told him.

I never told him that he was my hero.
That I looked up to him in more ways than I could count.
He was a good guy.
I remember being jealous of his friends
because he hung out with them voluntarily.
They got to see him a lot more often than I did.
I had always hoped that if we WEREN'T family, we would have been friends, too.
Because, honestly, he was my very best friend.

I was shattered when he died.
Utterly broken. 
I mean, how in the world was it possible for him to be gone?
He was such a vibrant, happy guy.
Full of life.

I wrote him a letter
and put it in his casket.
I told him how much he meant to me.
How much he changed my life.
How privileged I was to call him family.
I told him that he was my hero.

May 26, 2008

My nephew was 18 when he died about two years ago. He was the
most beautiful person I have ever known. I miss him tremendously.

Kevin taught me so much in our time spent together. Firstly, he taught me how to not be gullible. With all of the jokes he played on me, I learned very quickly not to take him seriously 99% of the time. Second, he taught me how to roll with life. I would always get so bent out of shape about everything, and he just seemed to float along without a care. I wanted to be like that, so, by example, he taught me how.

He still teaches me things to this day. Kevin had three memorial services. One in Mississippi, where he lived at the time, one in Kansas, where he had just moved from, and one in Utah, where he was born and buried. In all three services, the chapels were FILLED, with people overflowing into the hallways and gymnasium. He was only 18, and he touched literally thousands of lives. He taught me that I need to continue to love, no matter how much I've been hurt, because love will come back to me one hundred fold.

Kevin was an amazing person, and he shouldn't have had to go so soon. Every so often, I can feel him wrap his arms around my heart in a reassuring gesture that simply says, "Everything is okay, Michelle."

I wish that I could explain him fully to you, but that would be impossible. Kevin was truly his own person, and to try and explain him through mere words would be an almost laughable attempt.

Here's an essay I wrote last year in my Writing for College class. It didn't do him justice, but it satisfied a need at the time.

Tears were coursing silently down my face as I looked into the casket of my nephew and best friend. I raised my trembling hand in an almost trancelike state and placed it gingerly inside the hand of my deceased friend. It was cold. I looked into the waxy face that had once been full of laughter. The mortician, I thought, did not do a very good job of portraying Kevin. His face was oddly still, when before it had been in constant motion. His lips were straight, almost frowning, while he almost always had a smile on his face, no matter how much he hurt.

I slipped the letter I had written to him underneath his left hand as I continued to clutch his right. Everything I had ever thought about him but never had the courage to say was in that letter. I spoke of how I had always looked up to him. Even when we were two and three years old, I wanted to be just like him. I idolized him. He was, to say it simply, "cool." Well, actually, as a kid he was nerdy. He sported huge round glasses and a large gap between his two front teeth. He had a contagious, loud, throaty laugh, which lit up his entire face, and clothes that were way too big for his skinny body.

As he grew older, Kevin gained contacts, braces, and an amazing self-esteem. When he was around ten years old, he had gotten to the point that he didn’t care what other people thought of him, and he learned to be himself.

I also expressed to Kevin in my letter that he was, in truth, my hero. He had the qualities that I longed for in myself. He was completely carefree, and full of love. He was ambitious, and charismatic. He was always willing to try something, and he gave the impression that he was fearless.

I continued to stare at the lifeless body that was once my best friend as I felt a sudden rush of calm sweep over me. It was the sweetest sensation to overcome me since Kevin died, and I was grateful. The feeling was that of a warm and gentle squeeze of my heart, almost like an internal hug. I looked into Kevin’s face and squeezed the hand that I had been holding for so long. Somehow I knew that that feeling had been him.

I felt my sister, Kevin’s mother, put her arms around my waist and rest her head on my right shoulder.

“It’s so unreal," I sighed. “He was only eighteen."

“I know." She said, “It’s cruel that he had to die so young. But we were blessed to have known him."

Her words echoed in my head as she steered me away from Kevin’s body. My hand held on to Kevin’s as long as possible. It was too soon for me to let go.

Kevin Beautiful. Hilarious. Loving. Caring. Friendly. Heroic. Crazy. Unpredictable. Rebellious. Spiritual. Musical. Talented. Witty. Non-chalant. Incredible. Angelic. Strong. Bright. Artistic. Smart. Wild. Untaimed. Corny. Magical. Magnificent. Charismatic. Admirable. Charming. Loyal. Fun. Young.
My best friend.
My hero.
I miss him.

Aunie Sauce


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