It is a popular word used for many things. From the mundane to the eternally meaningful. We are urged to remember the Alamo, the 5th of November, and to remember to wash behind our ears. We are encouraged to remember to vote, to do our homework, and to recycle. Most of all, we are called to remember those we’ve lost and those we’ve loved.
On this day, I remember Tim.
Today is the anniversary of a day I, at times, wish to forget. It is the day my cousin Tim was hit and killed by a drunk tour bus driver in New York City.
Despite the gravity of the event, and despite my watery eyes, I laugh at the irony of the situation. You see, Tim had a rare blood clotting condition which led to heart complications when throughout his life. He suffered multiple strokes and was in and out of the hospital until he was 22. He lost a most of his cognitive abilities in those years and had to re-learn many things. But instead of being discouraged and frustrated, as most would, Tim continued to love life. He was enthralled by it.
God may have pressed the reset button on his mind, but in doing so, instilled an innocent yet fiery passion for living. He lived life as if it were a gift, a precious fragile gift. He lived as if any moment, the precious gift of time that he’d been given could end. And therein lies the irony. Tim lived life as if any moment he could walk across the street and get hit by a bus, and then… he got hit by a bus.
I do not find what happened funny. Hugging him goodbye one minute and then having to identify his body hours later in the hospital was not at all comical, it was devastating. If not for the love of God and the counsel and care of my friends and family I would be in a much worse place today. But it’s hard not to smile when I think of how he lived, and the irony of his death. I’m sure he would laugh too if he were here. His life inspired me, as did his death. He was one of the main reasons I moved to Abu Dhabi, and travelled the world. Living life fully was his passion, and he inspired me to live my life similarly.
“Remember Tim always!” my brother told me, as he gave me a black rubber wristband at Tim’s funeral.
We were supposed to wear it to remind us of Tim’s love for us and his love for life so that we would never neglect either. A few years ago, nearly four years after his passing, the band broke.
I knew the day would come when the rubber material would grow thin, however, I was apprehensive of that day. How would I remember him? I thought of getting a wrist tattoo. In the end, I didn’t get the tattoo, but the fear of forgetting him remained. Yet when the day finally came, it did not sadden me as I thought it would. I was ready to let go of the band.
Try as we may to find physical representations of the love we have for others, they remain merely shadows of the real thing. We buy things or create some ritual to help us remember but the people we’ve lost do not remain wrapped around our necks, or our ankles, or our wrists. No, they are wrapped around our hearts. They travel with us as we love those around us, as we see the world, and as we enjoy this precious gift of life we’ve been given.
My cousin Tim died the night of May 7th, 2011 at the age of 29. However, he has not, nor will he ever, pass away. Because while the band may have broken, on this day, and for the rest of my life I will forever remember his light.
In Memory of Timothy McShain White
January 14, 1982-May 7, 2011