I am still trying to recover from a 2 week migraine that comes and goes. Sigh! I sit here on this Sunday afternoon and listen to the noises in my house. Z is playing music, David is watching Spongebob and I am wrestling with trying to process the events of the last couple of weeks. It has been a strange and sad time.
I always tell my kids that life throws you enough unexpected curve balls that you have no control over....that you have to make good use of the things you do have control over. In other words....don't make things more difficult than they need to be. Recently...the curve balls have been flying. The last couple of weeks I have felt like the rug has been pulled from me emotionally and I have lost all sense of balance.
A little over a week ago I got the call that my cousin Warren had suffered a major stroke. I was shell shocked and gut punched all at the same time. The funny thing is...Warren and I had not seen each other since 1989 at his dad's funeral. In reality I had not known him for years, but immediately all the memories of childhood came rushing back. Warren's family and mine were very close mostly because of proximity and also because our mothers who were sisters. were very close. Warren was the 4th child and 1st born son of their family and he was about 5 or 6 years older in age than I was. The greatest times in my life were going to their house...mostly because I was the oldest in my family and had no siblings to look up to and because the rules seemed different at their house. When you have five kids as opposed to two....things are much looser or at least they seemed that way at their house.
To Warren....I am sure I was the gawky little cousin who was a pain in the neck. I was always clamoring for attention and trying to follow him and his brother Mark around. To me....Warren and Mark were the older brothers I never had but so longed for. When at the their house I was treated as an equal in both the good and the bad. Warren's favorite thing was to wait until his little sister Susie and I were watching tv and then sneak up behind us and scare us. He was ornery and as I remember.....at times a bit cocky and...... I adored him. Although I am sure when he knew my family was coming over he probably wanted to run for cover....he never showed that. I never felt unwanted or unloved over there. To the contrary....I felt at home.
Growing up my mother instilled a sense of specialness in me for belonging to the family I did. She never let me forget that coming from the Dougherty line was something to be celebrated and respected and I felt that way too. I was at the young end of my 40+ cousins but I always felt so special and such a part of something so big when I was with my cousins and being so close to Warren and his family just made that specialness even bigger.
As happens...Warren grew up and moved out on his own. Although I still spent a great deal of time with the family....I didn't see him as much. When I did though...I remember him being handsome and smart and very funny. Warren went to college, started a family and eventually moved away. The times I got to see him were less and less. In 1989, Warren and his siblings lost their father. It was a tragic time and one of the funerals in my life that truly had a resounding effect on me. I was not at the time aware that this would be the last time I saw my cousin for if I had known this I would have been mourning more than one loss that day.
Through the years my information of Warren and his life came through stories and second hand accounts. He had done well for himself as I knew he would (he was always smart to me) and apparently he never lost his sense of humor. He was the father of two remarkable kids and grandfather to a darling little boy.
Five years ago Warren found that he had what everyone in my family lives in fear of. He was diagnosed with colon cancer. When I heard I (like the rest of our extended family) immediately flooded heaven with prayers for his recovery. They were heard and he did have a full recovery. He was given five years to live, laugh, love and appreciate all his life had to offer. I kept telling myself that one day I would see him again....maybe it would be at a family dinner or possibly a family funeral, but one day I would see him. I guess it was not meant to be in this life.
Warren's stroke left him on life support and after all of his tests and many prayers from far and wide, the prognosis was there was no hope and the difficult decision had to be made by his family what to do next. On Friday at about 2 p.m. he was taken off life support and he died about 4. When I got the call I was sucker punched for a second time. I had so held out hope that he would be the miracle that someone needed to see. God had other plans. I have complete faith though, that Warren did not leave this earth one second before his time and that before he left he had accomplished everything he was suppose to. As I hung up the phone....memories flooded my mind of the Warren I used to know....... him scaring me and Susie and thinking it was so funny, seeing him and my cousin Mark at our grandfathers funeral and thinking they were the two handsomest men I had ever seen, seeing Warren on his wedding day and most of all...hearing Warren laugh. I remembered him walking to the pool with us, going to grandpa's with us and my mother teasing him when he was a teen about his long hair and him saying, "oh Aunt Janey," with that crooked grin he had. I also have no doubt that when he left this earth....he was not alone for his dad, his sister, his grandparents and many aunts and uncles were there with him walking him into the arms of Our Lord.
So as I sit here thinking about all of this....I realize that I will see Warren again someday....maybe not in this life but definitely in the next. So for now I say....RIP dear Warren until we meet again.