^ He was also the first to learn to mow the lawn, but that may have seemed more a curse than a privilege.
On March 26, 1986, this strapping lad made me an aunt. In fact, David was the first-born child of the new generation in my family of origin. Ten more cousins eventually fell out of our family tree, including my four girls, but David was the first.
My eldest was the second baby of the clan, following David by just fourteen months. They got on quite well, those two, and together formed the top tier of the cousins' social order. But when the whole gang of them met up, there was no question who was top dog. David was the one with the craziest ideas, the wackiest sense of humor, and the spirited ability to take things up just a notch further than anyone else thought to go.
And logically, he was the first to hit all the milestones of childhood.
The first to get braces.
The first to learn to drive.
The first to graduate from high school.
For two decades, he was undoubtedly the lead goose in the V-formation of our family's youngest generation.
Sadly, David was also the first to pass on from this life. Just short of his twenty-first birthday, David died in a freak accident. While his death stunned all of us, I suspect that his cousins and siblings were hardest hit. It is a very difficult thing to lose the one among you who came first, and I expect that they miss him profoundly.
And while I celebrate David's birthday this week, and give thanks for the fine, fun years that we had with him, I say a special prayer for my daughters and my nieces and nephews who carry the pain of his loss in a way I will never truly understand.
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Here's a story about David's siblings and how they have coped with his loss: