My cousin Will was a spark in family activities, in a dull school day, and in any type of wildlife. His mom used to babysit me sometimes, and he'd come play. Being a year and a week older than me (which made his death hit me hard...we were so close in age, it didn't seem right), we'd always stand back-to-back and compare our heights. When I was in 4th grade and he was in 5th, I'd pass him on my way back to class after lunch. His class had recess at our lunch time, and every day he'd be standing outside when I passed. "Hi Jessie," he'd say. I remember once, my best friend said "Oooh, Jessica's got a boyfriend!" and I had to explain that I didn't, that he was my cousin. I remember countless times where he'd ride the wrong bus home from school to sit with my younger brother and come home and play for a bit. We only lived a few streets apart, but because of our big elementary school, we had more than one bus for our neighborhood. Will also loved to hunt with his dad, race dirt bikes, and ride any type of motorized vehicle.
It was Will's love for nature that played the part in his death. I figure that if he had to die, it's good that he was doing something he loved.
April 14, 2000, Will got home from school and went to pick up his older sister Jenna from her bus stop on his three-wheeler. Once Jenna was home, Will again left the house, this time with a friend. They rode down the street to ride along a large canal in our neighborhood. It had been a rainy day, so puddles were all along the path. Will's ATV hit a puddle and flipped on him. His friend, fortunately, fell off the back and wasn't crushed by the vehicle. His friend brought back my aunt, who performed CPR until my uncle and the ambulances Jenna called arrived. My aunt and uncle performed CPR, as did those with the ambulance. They called in the Traumahawk to air-lift my cousin to St. Mary's Medical Center. He passed away there later that night.
It didn't make sense. Will was a great kid, a great cousin. Why did he have to die? I remember blaming God the night he died, but that was only out of immature frustration. The open-casket viewing was very sad. I went with my parents, and my brother stayed at home, being several years too young to understand. I said my goodbyes with my family, but I didn't shed a tear. My mother was proud of my strength. At the Memorial Service, I teared up a bit, but I didn't cry.
I don't let my dad so much as joke about mini bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, or anything related. Once he joked that he would get my brother a mini bike. I bawled for over an hour, and my mom had to explain to him that I hated the subject. When he starts to bring it up, I give him a warning look and leave the room. I don't like the idea of dangerous things like that. He died a week before Easter that year, and I got a Guardian Angel pin in my Easter basket. I wore it every single day for a year until I lost it on the playground in school. I was torn apart, and my mom and I went shopping for a new one. I haven't worn one since middle school, and I stopped wearing it constantly sometime between 5th and 6th grade. Now that I'm driving, though, I have a Guardian Angel visor clip for my car.
Each year since his death on his birthday (September 26, 1988), Jenna has thrown him a birthday party. She invites his old friends and the cousins old enough to walk out to his cross memorial on the canal in which he crashed. She always gets enough balloons to let off into the sky and send to Will. Throughout the years, the crowd gets smaller and smaller, and it's sad. It's a nice way to remember him and tell him Happy Birthday. Whenever I need someone to talk to, I always pray to him, as if he's my own special angel. My aunt made bumper stickers and stickers and got a tattoo, all of butterflies, for him. That's his unofficial symbol. Every time I see one, I smile. Our elementary school had built a new pavilion, and there's a plaque on it, dedicating it to him. There's also a special bench in the Butterfly Garden with a plaque with his name on it. I vaguely remember a star being dedicated for him as well. It's great to know how much people love and care for him.
He's been gone for 6 years, but Will will always be with me. He's my cousin, my angel, my butterfly.
And, please, if you're ever a driver/passenger on an ATV/motorcycle/related object, be careful.
Current Mood: melancholy