This year has already been crazy.
I started off this year on a relatively good note - I was planning and anticipating my cousin's surprise welcome home party (more on that in a minute).He had returned home from Afghanistan on December 18th and he was coming into town to visit with his family here (including me) and I was SO excited. I hadn't seen him since Jimmy's funeral and I was absolutely and completely pumped to see him again.
However, five days into the year and a death has already occurred pretty close to my heart. My grandma's neighbor, Harry, lost his long health battle Thursday night. Harry gave me the confidence I needed to write. From the first time I told him I liked to write he has always pushed me to never lose sight of that dream. I think a major part of why I believed that this man could really make me accomplish my dreams was because he had done the same thing with his grandson. His grandson, Mikey as he called him, had loved baseball since he was a kid. Harry had always encouraged him and Mike made it to the Major Leagues, now currently pitching for the New York Mets. I came to call Harry my "Drunk in the Walker" after a ticket mix up when Harry went to watch Mike pitch here in Cincinnati. His passing was rough to deal with, and I'm not sure that it's completely sank in yet. I attended his funeral and looked at his body and felt that that couldn't be the man that I knew and loved. It didn't look like him, though he had been really sick and had lost a lot of weight. But that inspiration in my life couldn't just be gone. And I think that's something that I felt when Jimmy died. If someone had changed me so much, had shaped me so much, how could they just suddenly be out of my life? And as I stood there looking at Harry this past Tuesday, I realized something. They're not. God brought people into my life for a reason - to teach me things, to show me things, and to make me who I am. And once they've done that, they can't ever leave my life. Harry will always be with me, because he gave me the best gift anyone could ever give to a writer: he gave me the confidence to believe that I could accomplish what I wanted and that I could write if I wanted to. And after I received that gift, I can't ever lose it. So, Harry, I thank you with all that I am. The rose from your funeral is right with my writing awards because I know without you, there's a good chance that I wouldn't have ever received them.
Welcome Home, Cpl Tyler McNabb. I am very proud of you, you have no idea. There was so much I wanted to tell you last weekend but didn't get the chance to. I love you very, very much, my Hero, my Marine, my Cousin.