For once, the grey skies and rainy weather are welcome. Mark and I found out last night that his cousin Raes died Sunday night. He was 23. He was racing ATVs with a buddy and missed a curve in the fading light. Hit a tree. He wasn't wearing a helmet and, quite frankly, I don't want to know if the helmet would've saved him. In that knowledge lies the madness of "what if." He didn't die instantly, but was able to remark to his friend that he couldn't feel his legs. So we can hope that perhaps he couldn't feel the pain either.
Having just joined Mark's family a little over six months ago, I didn't know Raes very well. But I was able to spend a decent amount of time with him during our Thanksgiving visit. The day after Thanksgiving, we had a big family gathering with Mark's Dad's side. And Raes had a tape of his training to be a corrections officer in Georgia. He showed us his favorite clip a couple times - footage of him and three other officers getting zapped by a taser gun (part of their training is to experience the weapons they have at their disposal to use on the inmates so they know what sort of pain they're inflicting). All four the guys started on their knees and ended prone on a mat. But Rae was the first one back up.
Mark and I spent our last day of that trip with Raes, waiting for our flights. We played cards and board games at Nana's house, watching the Bills game on TV. And then we went to the airport and watched a blizzard pound against the runways. Raes, being a tall, baldish guy travelling alone, had been pulled aside for the "random" screening. And the security guard had slammed his bag around, breaking his bottle of Tommy cologne. I remember sitting with Raes at our gate, breathing through my mouth and helping him fill out the complaint form (Mark and I were listed as witnesses). We hunted all down that terminal, trying to find a plastic bag big enough to hold his stuff and another to seal up the doused bag. When that was finally taken care of, Raes and I realized that we had both been overseas at the same time, and that we likely ran at track meets together. I remember thinking - in my mushy newlywed state (OK, so that hasn't changed) - that Raes was a connection from my past that led back to Mark.
These are the things I remember about Rae from the very brief time I knew him. I wish I knew more. Godspeed, Rae. And love, thoughts, and prayers to your family and friends.