I have another role model for uncomplaining natures, besides my dear mother-in-law Joanna M. MacLaughlin — and that is, my brave cousin Paul Orso about whom I have previously written.
My spirit might be moved to muse about Paul, and cousins, and uncomplaining natures when I rise tomorrow morning. But today, let me say this:
God must really, really have had need of a new champion in heaven, to have claimed too soon one whom we cherished so tenderly on earth. My dear cousin slipped away from us last evening. I will not believe that he died from ALS, but rather that he died because God, and my aunt Dode, and my uncle Joe, and my brother, my Mom and my Dad, grew lonely for Paul’s beautiful smile.
When my brother died, I shared a poem which always after has meant “Stevie Pat” to me. But today, it means “my cuz”. In the worst of times, my words fail me, and I have to turn to the words of those who felt what I feel without losing their grasp of the perfect phrasing to express it. And so, my friends, my family, until I can find words of my own, please read these of another, better author, and remember our brother, our father, our uncle, our friend, and — yes — our beautiful cousin, Paul Orso.
I cannot say, and I will not say
That he is dead- . He is just away!
With a cheery smile, and a wave of the hand
He has wandered into an unknown land,
And left us dreaming how very fair
It needs must be, since he lingers there.
And you- O you, who the wildest yearn
For the old-time step and the glad return- ,
Think of him faring on, as dear
In the love of There as the love of Here;
And loyal still, as he gave the blows
Of his warrior-strength to his country’s foes- .
Mild and gentle, as he was brave- ,
When the sweetest love of his life he gave
To simple things- : Where the violets grew
Blue as the eyes they were likened to,
The touches of his hands have strayed
As reverently as his lips have prayed:
When the little brown thrush that harshly chirred
Was dear to him as the mocking-bird;
And he pitied as much as a man in pain
A writhing honey-bee wet with rain- .
Think of him still as the same, I say:
He is not dead- he is just away!
James Whitcomb Riley