My cousin died today. He was only 33, and he hasn't been well for quite a few years, but I had no idea he was so ill. I found out only minutes ago, and the shock is setting in. This is devastating. But it's no way to introduce him to you.
Dan was one of the kindest, loveliest people I've ever known. Out of all the cousins, we were the closest in age, and used to write to one another about life, music, and whatever else was going on. He introduced me to the Stone Roses and the Inspiral Carpets. I last saw him in 1997, and we slid all the way down the hill beneath the giant chalk horse on the hillside at Uffington. Sounds basic, but the hill was a ridiculous incline, and it takes a couple of minutes to slide down after spending half an hour or so climbing up to the horse. We had to boil-wash our jeans to get the grass stains out. When we were 3 and 4, we went to the park near grandma's house in Huddersfield. There were men working on the road, and Daniel put his finger in the hot tar they'd laid down, which of course made him cry. I remember looking at the tar on his finger. The tar had a particular smell that was somehow different from the usual tar-smell; I only ever smell that exact scent every once in a while, and I always think of Dan.
I was thinking of him today, actually, and imagining how great it would be to see him and all the rest of my cousins and family, little realising the sadness unfolding thousands of miles away.
Sorry I missed you, Dan. Love and ham sandwiches, as always. x