My cousin Steve died a few days ago. I got the call from his sister. Steve was only 48.
When we were kids, he pulled pranks on us, like cheating at the innumerable card games we played during holidays. He told hilarious jokes, trying to get us to lose it so that the coke we were drinking would shoot out of our noses.
He was 2 years older than I was, and I always looked up to him because he was so, so handsome and cool and urban. I was a little suburban girl, and I was in awe of his platform shoes and perfectly feathered hair and non-white friends. He was a whiz at bumper pool. He listened to exotic music, like Creedence Clearwater Revival and Michael Jackson. The first time I heard "Rollin' on the River," he'd played it for me on his stereo.
Steve leaves behind two teenaged boys who are going to miss their dad beyond what I can imagine, I'm sure. He had their faces tatooed on his chest, which he used as inspiration to stay sober for a lot of years. Unfortunately his disease got the best of him. It sounds cliche, but it's true: Everyone loved Steve because he was funny, smart and just a plain sweet guy. Every time I saw him he'd give me a big hug and say, "Hi, beautiful."
We'll all miss him.