All We Need Is Love

My cousin Greg killed himself in the fall of 2011.  It was one of the most painful things I have dealt with in my life, not just because he was young and I loved him, but because of the tragedy that led up to it. Greg was the most adorable little boy with his bleach blonde hair and the biggest bluest eyes that could just make you melt.  He had the cutest smile and a little lisp when he talked.  He was a rambunctious but loving child who loved to play and sing.  I always looked forward to summertime since that is the only time of year I got to see him since he lived a few hours away.

The biggest tragedy was not the fact that he took his own life.  Sometimes I feel like he wasn't given a fighting chance from the start.  His mother got pregnant at a young age and was not married.  In fact, I don't even think she had a relationship with his dad.  My aunt was still living in my grandparent's house and they were very against this unplanned pregnancy, especially since they were Jehovah's Witnesses and this would look very bad on them to have a daughter expecting out of wedlock.  My grandparent's decided almost immediately that the father was to have no further contact with their daughter, not to mention the baby once it was born.  So, once Greg was born, he would have no father in his life.  At first, it wasn't too bad since my grandfather stepped in as the father role.  He and my grandmother were there to help raise Greg.  That is until Greg was around 5 or 6 years old, when my grandfather passed away.  I believe this to be the first tragic thing to happen to Greg.  He loved my grandfather like a dad.  The second tragedy followed when my grandmother moved away to live closer to her other son about three hours away.  It was almost like losing both of his parents within a couple months time.  His mother held a lot of animosity towards him since day one.  I am not sure if it was because he looked so much like his dad, the fact that because of this unwanted pregnancy her boyfriend had been driven away, or because she felt like her life wasn't going to be what she wanted for herself having a child to take care of, or maybe combination of all of it.

Greg's mother soon married and I think he may have had some hope that he would once again have a father figure in his life.  I don't think it quite played out the way he was thinking it would.  Greg's new step father didn't seem to be all that interested in him and he already had a child of his own - a perfect little daughter that could seem to do no wrong.  Greg felt like an outcast in his own family.  His mother didn't hide the fact that she despised him.  She would yell at him and hit him every chance she got.  I remember from a young age watching my aunt hit him so hard she would leave handprints across his face.  He was a typical rambunctious little boy and my aunt would get tired of dealing with him so she fed him cough syrup on a daily basis to get him to take naps or to get him to sleep early at night.  As if he didn't feel bad enough, his mother became pregnant again with her new husband and she gave birth to another baby boy.  This new baby became the center of their world and Greg was cast aside like someone's dirty laundry.  As a young adolescent, Greg looked for places he would fit in.  He started getting in trouble and hanging out with a gang.  I guess he figured getting in trouble and having negative attention from his mom was better than having no attention at all.   He didn't enjoy being at home anymore, not just because he was ignored by his family, but because his mom was not the cleanest housekeeper.  The house was always dirty and not only had garbage and dirty dishes piled up everywhere, but she owned dogs so there would be piles of dog crap around the house.

When Greg was around the age of twelve his mom sent him to live with his aunt and uncle, which was a couple of hours away.  Greg was pretty excited because he always liked his uncle Ken.  He hadn't spent too much time with him since he had lived so far away, but remembered the times his uncle would come to visit when his grandpa was still alive and he would always make Greg laugh.  His uncle would always use his hand and bring the tickle monster out.  Little did Greg know he was once again in for disappointment.  He was not aware his aunt and uncle were severe alcoholics.  Once again, he started hanging out with the wrong crowd to stay away from the drunken fighting.  So only after a few months he went back home to live with his mom and stepdad.

Somewhere around the age of nineteen, Greg decided to try to find his real father.  He had already been in and out of jail and his mom pretty much wanted nothing more to do with him.  She was tired of having to deal with his bad behavior and he was tired of her vicious verbal abusive.  He was elated when he was finally able to find his biological father.  He was very nervous to pick up and dial the phone number but at the same time was very desperate to have a connection with someone of blood relation.  He was excited with the thought of finally having his father in his life.  He imagined all the things they could do together when they finally met for the first time.  Things that a father and son do together like play baseball or go fishing.  Once again Greg was not anticipating the disappointment of rejection.  When he was finally able to locate his biological father, instead of receiving joy and happiness on the other end of the phone he was questioned on his intentions for contacting him.  His father informed him that if he was calling for money then he could forget it.  And so Greg took another devastating blow to the heart.  He already had had no contact at with his mother at all at this point and now any hopes for a father were now diminished.  As the next ten years went by Greg tried as hard as he was capable to create a life for himself but as you could imagine he was an empty soul.  He had a hard time keeping relationships and continued to be in and out of trouble with the law.  He tried to reconnect with some of his cousins but they all had families of their own and he just didn't feel like he could fit into that family atmosphere.  I believe that he just needed to be able to love and to truly feel love.  I believe this is one of life's basic needs.  I feel ashamed and completely devastated for not recognizing this and not doing something to prevent this horrible tragedy from happening.  The harsh lesson to be learned through this is that we cannot as human beings turn our backs on something that we know is not right.  A simple smile or a few minutes out of our day to give a listening ear or some words of encouragement will go a long way.  I will not let the death of my beautiful blonde haired, blue eyed cousin go in vain as I encourage everyone to show a little love today.


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