My cousin Brian died over the weekend, after days of ICU, machines, and defibrillation. He was only 45 years old; two years younger than myself, and I’m still shocked to think he is actually gone.
We grew up in upstate New York, where I have fond memories of the games we’d play. Shooting guns in the back yard, playing war, wrestling, running around in the woods of my grandfather’s land.
There was sparring with padded swords (Brian and his brother made), or playing a modified game of dungeons and dragons, or card games. I remember once Brian and his brother Jaimie tied a sled to the back of a snowmobile and was running it all over the hills of the woods. I swear those boys were speeding to try to throw the other off, but slowed down for their cousins. It was probably dangerous, but it was tremendous fun.
When my mother moved us to Maryland, Brian eventually moved south as well. As grown ups I remember getting rides on his moped, his fixing my car headlight, and going out drinking when we were of age. He drank beer. I don’t think I ever saw him drink anything stronger, but he drank a lot of it.
That’s when I realized he had a drinking problem. He drank incessantly and consistently.Mutual friends commented on his driving dangerously, to where he lost his license, and as he got older, I started to worry. I’d mention it to him, to which he brush it off in his usual goofy grin.
I can only imagine he held some unspoken pain he didn’t care to share to salve.
I haven’t seen him lately except a brief moment at my brother in law’s house. We exchanged pleasantries, promising to connect later. Later never came.
I understand Friday he collapsed. His mother said he hadn’t felt well days before but didn’t want to see a doctor. He collapsed, hit his head, and they had to defibrillate him several times. I understand he lost oxygen to his brain.
They put him in an induced coma, put him on machines. The doctors said he had brain damage. His drinking damaged his heart his mother told me. She didn’t have much hope of him coming out of this.
We knew he wouldn’t want to be on machines. When they pulled him off, he didn’t respond. His mother decided to pull care- no food or fluids. He passed on yesterday at the age of 45 .
I often wondered if he’d die because of some accident, of some stupid, recklessness because of of his drinking. But now, it feels unfair. He was a good person, always ready to help others and asking little in return.
I will truly miss him. The world seems less bright without him…