To a time when death was still something sad that happened to other people.

What a lovely tribute to a special friend. Stories that speak to and for us all are your specialty, it seems.

Someone I have known and loved all my life is dying tonight. Today is his 56th birthday. I remember when he was born. My aunt let me change his diapers. I begged her, oh please! I suppose I thought he was like my dolls. I remember being confused that he had something in his diapers my dolls didn’t, something my sister and I lacked. I was astonished when he sprayed me with it! He has always made me laugh.

When I met his wife, long before they married, I loved her, too. She is a strong woman with a wide and loving heart. What he lacked, she contributed and what she lacked he never saw.

I am consumed with thoughts of their children, four of them, none yet 15. How they will process their father’s death? You have given me the words because, of course, they will regress “To a time when death was still something sad that happened to other people.”

Happened to other people. Soon they will know death comes to us all.

I wish I wasn’t losing my cousin. I wish more that his children weren’t losing him. I wish you hadn’t lost Bill.

I was 50 when my father died. I had lost people I loved. But losing my dad was “something sad that happened to someone else” until I was summoned to the room where I’d left him an hour before. I assumed he’d look asleep. I imagined that I’d kiss his forehead and the back of his unforgettable hands. He’d still be warm.

In fact, his body did look exactly as I’d left it. But the “who” of my father was gone. He wasn’t there. And he’d never be anywhere, again. I never touched his body. Nor dealt with a loss so profound.

I am profoundly different.

I feel angry that these four lovely children will be profoundly different when their father goes. And he will go soon.

They will survive and even thrive. But first, they will regress. And process anger, confusion, sadness and worst of all their brutal abandonment by a father who promised he’d never leave. Their present is about to never include their father, again.

Next month he will be dead. And buried. I’ll walk my dogs and go to the grocery. And next month we will all attend the rehearsal dinner and the black tie wedding of another cousin’s son. His younger brother died unexpectedly last May. He was 23. Barely. We’ll celebrate the new marriage, wish them luck and children and many will dance until dawn. On Sunday I’ll visit his brother’s grave before I leave town.

And my cousin’s children will still go to school. Some kids will treat them differently because they won’t know what to say or how to feel.

Life is a bridge of going across.