My Cousin Doug passed away on Monday. He was my dad’s first cousin (so my first cousin once removed) and his death was rather sudden and unexpected. I say this, not to elicit remarks of sympathy, but because I wish to share how special he was to me, and how grateful I feel to have had him in my life.
Doug was a true appreciator of the natural world, an active and adventurous spirit with the physique of a god, and a seeker of truth, meaning, and insight.
Visits with Doug were like treasures to me – rare but rich and fulfilling. We went for hikes and connected with the beauty of the land, talked about the things that were important to us, and philosophized about life and things unknown.
Most of our hikes and visits were out in the red rocks of Arizona where he lived, but we also visited in his beloved Woodstock, NY, where he spent many happy hours of his youth. To hear him talk about those days was like being transported back in time, and you felt that you were there living that magic. His mom, my Aunt Glad (who passed away last year at 103 years of age), had that same story telling prowess – unassuming yet captivating – that drew you into the memories in a way that made you want to reach out and and touch them.
I had been trying to get Doug to come visit me for several years, selfishly, because I wanted to spend more time together, and because I wanted to share the magic of my own little slice of woods and wilderness. I know he would’ve loved it, and even though that will never happen, I know that he is with me when I’m out wandering the woods, looking at animal tracks or stopping to admire the way the sunlight is falling on the trees.
The last time I saw Doug was over the summer. We went on an outing to Slide Rock near Sedona, AZ and spent the morning sliding down the slippery stream bed and jumping off of rocks into the refreshing pools of water. When the crowds starting moving in, we scrambled downstream and sat on a rock outcropping talking and simply appreciating our surroundings and being together.
That visit encapsulated what spending time with him was like – full of a willingness for fun, adventure, appreciation, and connection. I will always treasure that, and hope that it will continue to be a guide for my own interactions with the world.
Doug was a kindred spirit, and I will miss him immensely. But more than that, I’m so honored to have been blessed with his presence in my life.
Thank you for shining your light on us, Doug. May you fly high and bright and always shine on in our hearts.