my cousin, chad william bowen went with jesus on april 21. i flew from overseas to tennessee to attend the services and be with my family. it is definitely hard on everyone...we all miss him so much, but trust he is now in the Father's hands. after all, this world is just a stop along the journey.
i had the opportunity to speak at the graveside service and i shared two stories about chad when we were in nyc summer of 2002. i lost my job in chicago and moved to nyc on my severance package in june. i didn't start working for merrill lynch for about 6 weeks so i had a lot of time on my hands. chad was living in queens and pitching for the brooklyn cyclones.
one day we were walking through washington square park and i got a call on my cell phone. i stepped about 20 feet from chad to take it and a homeless man approached me and asked for money. chad came running over and said, "LEAVE HER ALONE YOU BUMB!" i told chad to calm down because he was only asking for money and this was kind of normal. i usually only give out food and i passed him a granola bar and went back to my conversation on the phone. i looked out of the corner of my eye and chad slipped him some money. how much? i don't know. we never discussed it. later on, however, i did tell him it was more politically correct to use "domestic nomad" or "homeless” instead of “bumb”! :)
during his first game i went to, some of the 8-12 year-old fans sitting around me found out i was chad's cousin. they begged to go with me to the player's exit after the game so they could get autographs. i knew chad was tired when he came out, but he never let on. he stood there and made those kids' dreams come true. for 25 minutes. he graciously (with a smile on his face) signed programs, baseballs, t-shirts, hats, you name it. when we were walking back to the subway i was teasing him about being famous. he shrugged it off and said it wasn't real.
see, my cousin didn't always talk about jesus and heck, some of the things that came out of his mouth didn't exactly sound like jesus. but who does? he's JESUS and we're US. but chad ACTED like JESUS more times than not. he loved his family and he loved complete strangers off the street. he was the most (famous) humble (baseball player) person i knew.
this world, my world, is grieving the loss of a stellar, loving, compassionate, and gracious human being.
on a side note, chad was buried 50 feet from his music hero, johnny cash. since your soul goes to heaven and the body is just here, i never thought it a big deal whether you go into the ground or your ashes are spread out in the ocean. but i do have to say being buried next to johnny cash and june carter is pretty great.
my other computer died with pictures of chad in his mets uniform and some of us in nyc that summer. once i return to greece i may have some hard copies i can scan in and post.