Thursday, August 20, 2009


I’d flown across the country to see my cousin Tom. Seated in the small one person bungalow he’d bought the year before, we knew this was the last we’d see each other. His hairless head and missing brows and lashes told of painful treatments, ended now.

The palm pilot in his hand contained the phone numbers, schedules for the folks who came to see him, connections with the life outside his room. “I’m not gone yet,” he said, “I still have things to do. My men’s group comes tonight. You can come, too.”

A clergyman, he saw himself a mentor now. He asked me, would I like to hear what happened to his marriage? How he left his parish priesthood, almost got defrocked? How he’d lived before the cancer claimed him barely sixty days before?

And then he told me what I had not known of him, and shared with me his life, his pain, his story. It is a tale I’ll recount someday, and put together with the boy he was, red haired and funny, chasing through the woods and dunes and beaches of Lake Michigan.