Me, My Cousin, and the D-Word


My cousin the lion, Halloween 1993.

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This isn’t a happy story. But it’s an important story, so I hope you read on — if only to benefit from my hard lessons.

This is about Death and Photos. (I warned you, right?) Now, I’m pretty young, but I do know death is a reality. Though I’ve always expected it to come along at some point, when death came visiting I found it rude, intrusive and unsympathetic to my own plans for the future.

It came December, 2015. My cousin died. He was so wonderful. And his death has wounded my family’s heart. It has marked our souls. No words, really.

But still. There were practicalities to deal with. With his passing came planning his service. And as with most memorial services, was a call for a visual story of the beloved’s life, something to gather around and share. A slideshow. Albums laid out on a table. Poster boards. The timeline, completed now, from his adorable infancy, to his awkward teen years, and everything in between, and all the way to the last photo before the last day. We, the grieving, need these things.

All three cousins together by the pool. The 3 Amigos.
Happier times. That’s me in yellow, my cousin on the right in trunks.

But what few think about is that someone has to gather up these photos and make them presentable. Someone has to physically look at, and consider, each photo. Someone has to produce proof that this person existed, and that they were loved.

You can see where this is going: in my family, that person was me. And it was awful. Going through the disorganized mess of photos, the winding trail of my cousin’s life was…just…awful. With every photo came a crashing wave of despair and pain. Which I guess is to be expected. But these feelings were compounded by another energy-sucking practicality: where were all the other photos? The ones I knew existed, but couldn’t find? No one in our family had a real method of organizing, storing or archiving any of our childhood memories.

So my job (did I mention it felt awful?) expanded to combing through social media, discs full of old photo scans, and whatever else I could get from my cousin’s friends to make something presentable. It took days. Photos that had been saved digitally were lost when the laptop they were stored on was stolen. No one had duplicated those precious memories anywhere.

Here’s the hindsight and learn-from-our-mistakes part: I just learned about Mylio. If we’d had something like this to store our memories, to keep them safe, and even tag them so I could easily search for photos of my cousin, search for proof of happier times – if we’d had something like Mylio, I would have been spared a lot of pain and anger.

Toddler times.

It’s been a few months since my cousin’s passing, and I’m still archiving and organizing photos for his parents. Emotionally, it’s incredibly taxing. But at least now, I’m not being taxed twice. Because of Mylio, I minimize the time spent reopening fresh wounds. I can focus on what’s important: honoring my cousin, and building a lasting tribute to him for all who knew him, and even those yet to come who never will.

Look: saving memories should be a joy. It shouldn’t be a doomsday exercise. But stuff will happen. Even if you expect it, it will feel unexpected. And when that day comes, and your world is turned upside down, trust me – a tool like Mylio will save you some hurt in the end. Though I was late coming to it, I’m very grateful now.