I received a call this morning from my cousin Kate that my cousin Mark had died earlier this morning in a car accident.  We are all in shock.  Mark had just turned 50 this month.

Death is such a natural part of living but it still hits you in the gut anytime it happens.  My friend Cheryl recently talked about death by saying it's not something you can come back from so you better treasure every moment you have now.  We hear this all the time.  Live life to its fullest.  Live every moment as if it were your last.  Enjoy every day fully.  But how many of us really do?

Mark was full of life.  My memories of Mark are always of him with a smile on his face, making everyone laugh along with him.  I have several Karaoke memories of Mark.  We sang a very bad rendition of Love Shack once. Oh it was so very terrible.  But we laughed it off and kept on going.

In my 20's and 30th's I ran into him more than the past 10 years - weddings, family gatherings, Steele County Fair.   Once Grandma and Grandpa Powell passed away we didn't have much where all the cousins still got together.  Thanks to my brother Trent, most of the cousins were together this summer at the 150th Annual Horse Theives Detective Picnic on the 4th of July.  There are wonderful pictures of Mark at that event.  We all had a blast reliving our childhood in the various games played - egg toss, water balloon toss, pie eating contest.  And he had fun sharing that with his son Torrin.

That's the one great thing about family.  You can go forever without seeing each other and then be back together as though no time has passed.  There was a meme passed around on Facebook about the bond of cousins and I know I have been blessed to have such wonderful memories growing up with bushels of cousins.  We are spread all over the country now but thanks to the internet and various family web sites and now Facebook it is great to see all the daily goings on of each other.  And now to watch the next generation too.  How blessed we are.

Mark's untimely passing will leave a hole in our souls.  The hole will eventually heal but the scar will stay with each one of us. But it's a badge of honor we will carry around proudly.

Rest in Peace Mark.  Know that you are loved by many.