I just came home from attending the funeral of my cousin, Gino, who left us far, far too early.  He was a year younger than me, and I have so many memories of him from our growing up years, but none at all of him as an adult.  This is something I regret deeply.  I’ve made mistakes – too many to count – and I know too well that sometimes you learn too late and some wrongs can’t be righted.

I was thankful to see my family again for the first time in almost thirteen years, and blessed to have been part of the most beautiful funeral service I’ve ever seen.  My cousin’s death was tragic, but his life touched so, so many people.  I wish with all my heart that I’d gotten to know the amazing man his friends and family knew him to be.  They say you can tell a lot about a man by looking at his friends, and judging by the way they came together in support of his wife, stood by his mother in her time of grief and loved his sisters in the midst of their sorrow, my cousin was an incredible man.  I can only hope to be half as loved as he was, to be half as loving as they described him to be. I knew my cousin only as a childhood playmate (and fiancée if we count those secret proposals behind the palm trees!)  That is something I will regret for the rest of my life.  But I am deeply thankful to know more about the man that he became… kind, loving, caring, considerate, compassionate, strong… in a word: amazing.  I am thankful for the chance to get to know the beautiful wife, children, sisters and mother that he left behind.  He legacy lives on in those who loved him best and I am thankful to be among his family.

Rest in peace, Gino.  I love you.

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