I distinctly remember this exact day 16 years ago. Although I was only 5 years old, it feels like it just happened yesterday. I recall camping at the Minnedosa campground, I remember my parents getting a phone call, I remember them both breaking down and sobbing like I had never seen before. Little did I know, that day would change me and my life forever. That day was when we discovered that my cousin Bradley had passed away in the wee hours of the night. Brad was hard working, kind, funny, caring, and a truly amazing cousin. I loved him so much. He loved spending time with us and always wanted to babysit us and spend time with those that he loved. He instilled in me a love for baseball, farming, the outdoors, animals, and family. He was so passionate about helping out my dad and uncles on the farm and he loved riding his horse named Buster (who is still alive today!).
I distinctly remember my last memory of him. I don't know if it was the last time I actually saw him but it's the last memory I have of him. Some family was over at our house and we were hanging outside together. Brad was playing tag with all of us, chasing us around, making us giggle (like usual). When he was chasing me, he accidentally hit me in the nose and my nose started to gush blood. Being the caring guy he was, he felt awful and he sat with me and made sure that I was okay. He was joking around with me and making me feel better. When I close my eyes, I can picture the day perfectly. I can picture the sun shining, the smile spread across my face, Brad chasing a bunch of giggling kids around the yard. I can still smell his smell and feel his warm, loving presence.
I often wonder how different life would be if he was still around. I can picture him with a wife and kids, living on a farm, and still living life to the fullest. I can picture my aunt, uncle, and cousins living a totally different life too. They are still healing from the hurt and they are still dealing with the loss of such a beautiful son and brother. Just like me and the rest of my family. I know my dad blamed himself for a long time and I know that everyone missed him so much it hurt. I am just so glad that I have these beautiful memories of him and I am so blessed that he is guiding me and loving me from up above. I am so thankful for his wonderful, thoughtful, caring, passionate soul. I will always hold on to all of the memories I have of him.
I love you Brad.