I spoke to my second cousin (my mother and his father were “kissing” cousins) for the first time in my life the other day, and it was an unexpected thrill. It made me realize again how close and how distant you can feel at the same time. I had a first cousin once-removed who I never felt distant to even though I hadn’t seen him in 25 years. I was at the hospital with his mother, my cousin, on the day he was born. The deep things are the first ones in and the last to go. As the years passed and whatever caused us not to speak continued to cause it, I always knew I’d see him and speak to him again. In April, I learned that he died this past March. I learned it while I was at the computer Googling something. It knocked me for a loop finding out that way. Now his mother and father are without their son and his wife is without her husband. When I learned that he had Lou Gehrig’s disease and that for three years he was so terribly sick, I thought maybe it was a relief. But I knew it wasn’t. He was only 55. When he was a teenager, I thought he looked like a painting by Bronzino. His mother didn’t think so. But whenever I think of him, this is what I see. He had a beautiful speaking voice. Whenever I heard it, it made me think something good was going to happen. He didn’t have children, but if he had, when there was enough snow on the ground, he’d have attached a sled to the back of his tractor, would have smiled as his kids climbed into the sled and then, laughing, he’d have pulled them around all over the farm. He wasn’t an athlete either. But a poem about an athlete runs through my head every time I think of his death. And every time I read the poem, I think of Jeffrey.