I want to tell the story of how my cousin lived and died. Someone remarked what's the point of mentioning how someone died. The difference is how someone lived. Here's my cousin's story.
He lived in New York City. He was a punk. He was a gang member. He was a hero.
Growing up, he and his father, my uncle, thought that his problems with the law were funny. Somewhat a Soprano lifestyle. One day, a woman came to my uncle to complain that my cousin pulled a knife on her son.
My uncle replied, "My son doesn't carry a knife; only a gun. (Chuckle)
Then, one day a building was on fire. A two year old boy was trapped. My cousin scaled the building and saved the little boy.
Another day, he came upon a car crash. Their was a minister unconscious at the wheel. My cousin ran to help the man. Then he saw the church cash box on the front seat. My cousin took the money, about 800 dollars, and told his family that the Lord blessed him with the money.
Then the news came that he was getting married. My mother went but I didn't want anything to do with that side of the family.
My mother called me right after the wedding and in Italian distress voice she said, "Right as the priest said, 'I now pronounce you man and wife'" a crow crowed.
I just laughed at the superstition. But I stopped laughing when my cousin got sick on his honeymoon. He had Aids. Both he and his wife died. His family was very concerned that people would think my cousin was gay. So the message came. "He died of drugs; he wasn't gay."
He lived; he died; he took his innocent wife with him.
Make of this story what you will. I think it's worth the telling.