Last week my cousin Jonathan passed away. He was only 33. It was a complete shock to everyone. It still doesn’t feel real.
Some of my very favorite childhood memories involved hanging out at Jon’s house. I would spend time there every summer. We built forts out of blankets and couch pillows. We roamed the neighborhood. We rolled down hills. We played kickball. We did all the normal things kids were supposed to do.
I spent a lot of time watching him do things. Playing video games, baseball, skateboarding, and basketball were not things I was into. But he loved them, so I was there, cheering him on. He reciprocated by watching Jem and the Holograms with me, and playing endless girly pretending games that I would make up. Many involving cats and horses. We played a million games of Monopoly. We played GI Joe and Voltron together. He was He-Man and I was She-Ra, and we saved the world a lot.
We didn’t get along all the time, but he and his brother, Trey always took up for me. They might not remember that, but I always will. When we would play kickball or baseball in the neighborhood, the rule was “If you get tagged, you’re out. Except Jennifer. She can keep running”. I was quite slow and clumsy, so this was a great advantage 😛
Our longest lasting game was Jon Dog and Jennifer Cat. We had many adventures together, including starting our own circus. I would boss him around (of course), and he would perform tricks. Many years later at a family gathering, I mentioned those games. He claimed to not remember, but I think his amnesia had something to do with a woman he was trying to impress who happened to be there…
We grew up, and eventually grew apart. The last time I saw him was in June 2011 when we were in Nashville for a couple of days. We celebrated his birthday. I asked Jon and Trey to take a picture with me on the front porch. It was the first one the three of us had together in a really long time. I’m so incredibly thankful to have that picture.
He will be greatly missed.