I’ve been thinking tonight about Treavor, a cousin of mine who was shot and killed at the start of adulthood. Our family was devastated. Those kinds of things don’t happen in Alabama. There was no time to prepare. No chance to say goodbye. I know his mom, dad and brothers all struggled with the why of it. I admired each of them for how they handled it, and tonight my reflection was about two things specifically.
The first is that Dusty lost the other half of how he was identified. It was always “Dusty and Treavor”. As twins, they were rarely separated, and they were happy together almost all the time. That’s how it was for David & Austin, too. They weren’t twins, but at 17 months apart, it almost seemed that they were. She has never known life without him in it. I want for her to know that she will carry the best parts of him with her forever. That she is loved for who she is – independent of who he was. That she will be a part of other duos that will enrich her life and make her feel fulfilled. I’m sad that she doesn’t have him, but I am also afraid that she won’t let anyone else be that for her again.
Which sort of leads me to the other thing I’ve been contemplating tonight. Putting yourself out there to love and be loved, and making sure you do it while you still can. When Treavor died, I went to his funeral. I lived in California at the time, and the funeral was in Alabama, so it was a big deal for me to fly back there. However, the whole time I was traveling, I was wishing I had gone back earlier. In fact, there was a specific party that I could have gone back for. All of my cousins had gathered for a party for my uncle. We lost him and Treavor shortly after, and I just kept wishing I had gone to the party. Then, I would have seen them alive. I probably would have harassed Treavor, but hugged him and told him I loved him. But I didn’t go. We didn’t have the money. Somehow, we came up with the money for the funeral, though. I’m pretty sure we could have found the money for the party, but it just hadn’t seemed like a priority. I know that my family appreciated having me there, but I knew it had been too long since I had seen Treavor. I promised myself then, that whenever I could, I’d go for the happy stuff instead of the sad.
Several years later, Dusty got married. I made a point of making it back for the wedding, and I’ve never regretted a moment. I had moved to the East Coast when a dear friend from California got married. We flew out to California with the kids for the wedding. Both kids were a big part of that day for them. It was worth every penny to make those memories.
There are some people who couldn’t make it to David’s funeral. I know they feel bad about that, but what is more important to me is that they made a point of seeing David while he was alive. He had a few more happy memories because of that.
So today I would just encourage everyone to do the happy stuff. Go “home” – wherever that is. And if you are there already, make sure you are taking advantage of it. Go watch a kid’s performance at school. Be there for your nephew’s track meet. Visit that relative in the nursing home or that friend in the hospital. You’ll probably never do it enough, but make sure you do it as often as you can.
A couple of the friends who “made time” to see David.