My cousin Scotty is a force of life to be reckoned with. He is action and happiness, love and childishness, a fun-packed day and fast-paced chatter, always making me laugh and pulling me out of any doldrums I may have wandered into. These days the doldrums are seldom, but in the few years after my sister died it seems like there was a lot of me drifting into the doldrums on my own little ship of sorrow and not much chance of getting out.
Scotty was deeply touched by my sister’s death. He adored her as much as I adore him, at the least. I remember standing by a tree with him in the funeral home’s parking lot before my sister’s viewing, our heads leaned together, me telling him the truth of how she died. I told him the truth and swore him to secrecy all in one breath. And he kept that secret for me, for my family.
I often had trouble dealing with the profound grief and secrets I had to keep after Lisa died, so I frequently sought Scotty’s company when I was lonely. He was very busy and traveling a lot with work, so he often wasn’t available, but when he was, we would hang out. We never did anything particularly interesting, but because I was with Scotty, it was an adventure. The time we spent together after Lisa died was different, as we were both steeped in grief over her. One day, we stopped at the grocery store on the way to Scotty’s apartment. I was so thirsty, but I couldn’t decide on a drink. We stood in the juice section for so long trying to decide that we became tired and sat down in the aisle, the bright lights of the grocery store glaring down on us. Depression had taken away my ability to make simple decisions, and it drained me of energy. This sort of inaction was alien to Scotty, as he was famous for always moving and fidgeting, so through my emotional exhaustion it came as a shock that he probably felt as crappy as I did. He didn’t hide the way he felt; it just dulled his shine a little. But that shine wasn’t dulled for long. Although Scotty missed Lisa and grieved for her, he also had the ability to lift me up out of that black hole of woe, as I called it, with his mere presence, just as he lifted himself out of his own grief. He showed me that it was okay to enjoy life after Lisa was gone, though it took me a while to accept and understand it.