I have about 100 cousins; I know that my grandma knows the exact number – it’s impressive! I guess having 11 kids will do that. I always loved having so many cousins. Growing up in a big family with all of them made Christmas’ and camping trips filled with loud laughter and lots of treats. The memories I have of these times are priceless. Sometimes I wish I could go back to the days when I would eat all the green jellybeans, and my cousin Coral would eat all of the black ones (gross!), out of the bag in our tent while camping way up north at my grandpa’s moose-hunting spot. It was cold at night – so cold that we could see our breath, and we could see the northern lights sometimes. I wish I could take another ride on a 4-wheeler down a dusty road over tree trunks and through swampy water. Those sure were the good ‘ol days. Not a care in the world. Well, the only care was wondering if we had picked enough blueberries for our pancake breakfast; not a bad thing to worry about if you ask me. It was a celebration of life every day back then! Our youth allowed us to revel in the wonders that God gave us here on earth. And now, there is a different kind of celebration of life we must tend to – one for our cousin Jay, because God saw that is was time for him to leave earth. He passed away tonight after a long fight with addiction.

My cousin Marky, (Jay’s brother), wrote a heartfelt post on Facebook tonight. In it he asks a friend who died two years ago to take care of Jay, because he, “still might need help in heaven“. Tears! Oh my God, that broke my heart! And it made me realize how much of a battle Jay had with addiction here on earth. So much so that his brother is still worried about him in heaven. Marky recognizes how difficult it is to survive the disease of addiction, a disease that follows you wherever you go – except to heaven Marky.

I hope Marky can find relief in imagining his brother celebrating his life in heaven, without any pain. I bet there are Christmas parties filled with treats galore there. And camping trips with 4-wheelers and trails where you see the most beautiful things imaginable. And most importantly, all the jellybeans Jay wants to eat. You can have my green ones Jay. And if you are as crazy as Coral to like black jellybeans, I’m sure she will give you hers too.

Oh…I almost forgot, there are enough blueberries – no need to worry about that.

Rest In Peace Jay. XO