Sorry to have been off radar the last couple of days. I've been grieving the sudden loss of my cousin Gary, who died this week after a short illness. He was only 56. Gary was a gregarious, original personality with intense blue eyes and a thick head of prematurely white hair who could do anything with his hands -- sketch, grow 10-foot-high tomato plants, cook an Italian feast for 100 people, or renovate a house. When I was little, he helped teach me to play pool, and he used to turn himself inside out to make me laugh. I'd give anything to be at his wake tonight where many amazing stories will be told.
I'm sure those of you with close extended clans can relate. First cousins are your peers, the people you imagine standing with you through life as the older generation passes away. My family mosaic has been rearranged and I can't quite get used to the new picture. I've been driving the roads of France through tears. Today I hope to feel in a more celebratory mood about Gary's life. He devoured it. That's certainly what he would have wanted and I can hear his gruff voice scolding me for making such a fuss.