Saying Goodbye to Charley

This week we said goodbye to my cousin-in-law Charley. He was part of our family for 30 years, yet it is distressing how little I knew about him. But here is what I did know:

I know he was an impeccable judge of character—after all, he married my cousin.

I know he was a little bit crazy—after all, he married my cousin even AFTER meeting the rest of the clan.

I know he was highly athletic, before Huntington’s Disease stole his coordination.

I know he was courageous, braving his disease with dignity and grace.

I know he was determined, fighting the cancer that eventually took him with everything he had.

I know he enjoyed life to the fullest. His father’s early death had made him value life.

I know he was, in my experience, a quiet man—but you know it’s the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

I know he loved my cousin very, very much—and she him.

I know that he was deeply loved, respected, and admired by his family and friends, and will be as deeply missed by them.

And I know that someone who was so well-loved in turn loved others profoundly, generously, and joyfully.

Charley will be missed by the many, many people who loved him. His life can teach us so many things: courage in the face of unthinkable adversity; living life joyfully and fully every day; and loving those in your life profoundly, among others. But the lesson I have learned from him is to not take people for granted.

To know someone for 30 years and know virtually nothing about them is a much greater loss than knowing them well and losing them to death.

Thank you, Charley. You will be missed.

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