Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tune in Tuesdays

A bit of a long story to give some background to this week's lyrics...

When I was growing up, I had a special relationship with many of my cousins. With my mom being 1 of 12 kids, I had an abundance of playmates to choose from. Of course, not all of my cousins were similar in age to me or lived close enough to have regular play dates. But the ones that were, well we were practically inseparable.

This was especially true with my aunt Morning’s kids. Morning’s daughter, Justina, is 3 years older than me. Next comes her son Andrew, my very first best friend who is only 3 months my junior. Morning and Bob (her husband) had another son, Daniel, who died just after he was born when Andrew and I were 3. Less than a year later, they had my cousin Brandon. Then, when Andrew and I were 9, they had the baby of the family—my cousin Collin.

By this time, I had pretty much taken up a permanent (pseudo) position as another one of their immediate family members. To say that Morning and Bob were like my second parents, or that their kids were like my own siblings, is simply an understatement. I was still an only child at the time, so I reveled in the opportunity to have a sister and brothers—especially the new baby.

Fast forward 18 months. It was the night of my 5th grade Christmas recital and we got word that Collin was being taken to the hospital. He had been battling the flu for a couple of weeks and after several doctor visits had offered no relief, Morning and Bob took him to the ER. My mom rushed off to the hospital to be with them. Later that night she returned with Andrew and Brandon and set them up on my bedroom floor for a sleepover. Since it was a school night, I knew whatever was happening must have been more serious than we had hoped.

Within hours of arriving at the emergency room, Collin had been diagnosed with a brain tumor. In the days, weeks, and months that followed he underwent countless surgeries and radiation and chemotherapy treatments to fight the rare form of cancer than invaded his brain and began to spread throughout his body. I remember feeling like we were on a rollercoaster, with good news arriving one day and devastating news the next. I had spent so much time at Children’s Hospital I practically had the hallways memorized. I loved accompanying Morning to Collin’s appointments, where we’d play and laugh and watch movies to distract ourselves from the elephant in the room.

Despite every effort, cancer won the battle with this beautiful boy, just 10 days after his 3rd birthday. It was 15 years ago this past weekend, on a warm, windy summer day. I was there as Collin, cradled in Morning’s arms, took his final breath. I’ll never, for as long as I live, forget that day.

I’ve had many people tell me I’m an “old soul,” something I take as a great compliment most of the time. So I find myself wondering if losing someone so close to me, and so young, made me grow up much faster than I would have otherwise. Losing Collin had a profound effect on me. Certainly the experience was one that shaped so many of my emotions and behaviors. It was a significant part of who I was growing up because it was something I never learned to fully accept. But I also know that it wasn’t everything. His death didn’t define me. But in some ways, I guess it did. His and all of those that followed…

{Morning and Collin - lyrics from the song that was sung at his funeral}

Want to know what Tune in Tuesdays is all about? Read more here.


  1. Miss Jewells, I had to try not to cry at work when I read this post. I too am really close to my cousins and cannot imagine going through something like that! You've had to deal with more death than someone our age should have to deal with...

    P.S. I love the song you chose by the way. J played this song for his little sister (who is 8) when she was born and whenever I hear it, I always think of them and their special relationship :)

  2. Oh, my heart. I'm sniffling like a crazy person here.