I only wish the title were referring to hockey.
But it's not.
A few months back I posted about my cousin, Gary, on my Dad's side, who took his life earlier this year.
Today, on my Mum's side, there was another unexpected passing. My cousin (by marriage), Alan, fell ill and went into cardiac arrest at home. Paramedics revived him and took him to hospital, where he stabilized, only to go downhill again rather quickly and then arrested again for a second and final time.
Alan's wife (or I guess I should say "widow" now, though it feels odd to say that...) was diagnosed with cancer again just a few weeks ago. She's a 14-year survivor of breast cancer. Except that now it's back. And it's in her bones.
That news hit us all fairly hard. The cousin in question is one of my favorite people in the whole world. In fact, pretty much everyone in the family thinks she's pretty amazing.
As she recovers from her first round of cancer treatment, which she said was "horrible", she finds herself a widow rather suddenly. It's a bit shocking, really.
I was grateful that one of my other cousins phoned me as soon as possible to tell me, though I was as surprised as all of them to hear the news. It fell to me to tell everyone on the Canadian side, which was OK with me. I understand this is my role and I take it as both a privilege and a duty. I lived in England for a year as a child, and have been back to visit many times. Though we all try to maintain family connections, I think because of the time I've spent with them personally and through written correspondence (which, if you totalled it all up over the years, would come to thousands of pages, I could say with some certainty), I would be the primary contact in situations like this.
So, I spent the day on the phone to family members across the country and "across the pond", as we like to say, so the Atlantic doesn't seem quite so big.
It's been six years since I've been over to see any of them. Last time was in 2000, when my sister and I went over to see that our Mum's ashes were scattered in her homeland, thus ensuring that her final wishes were honoured.
Too long... far too long, indeed.
I was thinking of going over next spring. Even started saving for it a while back, actually. Now, there's no question... Ph.D. program (and the corresponding student budget!) or not, a visit next year is definitely in order.
Won't write any more for the moment, or I'll likely just get upset...
May take a few days away from Blog Land, as my head is full of many thoughts at the moment and truth be told, my heart is a bit heavy. I'll be back soon though... promise.