This is going to be one of the hardest things I’ve had to write; my cousin David recently passed away. Just physically getting myself to type that feels like an out of body experience. Now writing has always been a positive release for me, but his death has come so suddenly that I am still processing it. I know, sadly, from past experiences that a loss this close actually takes a lifetime to process, so putting those words down makes this a reality I do not want to accept. And yet, if writing has been my escape where do I go now… this is when I go back to a simple, but effective way I summed it up to my mom when we were mourning over my brother 17 years ago, “everything sucks right now.” Really, there are a lot worse words I could come up with, my mother just hated me using that word, “sucks,” as a teenager. However, in moments like these that phrase kinda sums it up. So if I may try to get it together, the real reason for this article is to introduce the greatest smoking buddy I’ve had since the beginning. A million stories come to mind thinking about David, depending on the setting and audience, for a cannabis magazine this one says it all.
David was the true definition of a right hand man. My parents had my brother and I during the same years that my mother’s brother had David and his sister. They only lived about 20 minutes away so the four of us, my brother and two cousins, basically grew up more as siblings. But David and I were especially close from the early days of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, staying up late playing Simpsons trivia, endless summer days of basketball, to eventually falling in love with weed and discovering hip-hop at the same time. There truly was never a time we weren’t close so it was only right that my guy would come to visit me when I traveled west and moved across the country. Now I know every smoker has that one person that comes to mind when you first really began enjoying the plant. Those first times when it was more of a mental journey/trip as your mind and body got used to it. The early days of smoking were intense, an incredible amount of fun even going through the gauntlet of parents, cops, teachers, everyone out to get you. But that’s why it was best to have a partner in crime, so to speak, and that was always David to me.
When I first told David about sharing my writing with Cannabis Cactus he blessed me immediately with an idea for an article. I went to school for history and also come from a long line of educators, but there are few things in life I am more passionate about than hip-hop and marijuana. So his idea to combine every aspect of my life that I love into my first piece was ingenious. This was the exchange that we had back in January… David: “Pre game malt liquor in a college apartment, Flesh-n-Bones presence, Lazy’s birthday, and the most epic session ever. Blazing to “The Weed Song” and then on into “Crossroads.” Ryan: “This was one of the greatest sessions ever, could be a new segment, “tell us what was one of your greatest sessions ever?!”” The fact that I put writing this piece on the back burner until now and everything that has transpired in one short year is more proof that time really flies by as we get older. But thinking back to those days in your early twenties when life was first taking off and everything was ahead of you, it captures everything I wanted to share in this piece and is a great tribute to my cousin.
September 25, 2009 watching Bone Thugs-n-Harmony at the Rave in Milwaukee, WI. A ticket I will always keep in my memory box and just a perfect moment in time. Go figure my cousin went on to be a financial planner, I never was that into planning, but we timed our blunt out flawlessly that night right as we heard the lyrics and first notes being played to “The Weed Song.” To have all five members of this legendary midwest hip-hop group performing together and then transitioning to ultimate classic “Crossroads,” sometimes the stars just align.
Now sadly, I have had to watch a lot of friends’ untimely demise. David has always been there for me so saying goodbye to my best friend, a great husband, father, someone who truly exemplifies the cliche that, “the good die young,” this is one loss that really doesn’t make sense. And ultimately there is no clever way to wrap this up so I will just leave it with this anecdote. After I returned from David’s funeral service, Sky Harbor was a madhouse and it was $70 for only a short ride home. All I wanted was to be back with my cat so that I could smoke one and start the day over tomorrow. The last thing I wanted to do was get into a deep conversation with my driver. Well, it started off simple enough as he asked about football, it doesn’t take much to get me talking, but by the end of the ride it was more like a therapy session. I can’t say who needed it more though since he had lost his father in a similar way to what I was going through. He talked about being there for his kids, fighting the urge to drink, and in the end it was such a great reminder how connected we are as I’ve personally promised my cousin that I am not going to ruin my three years of hard fought sobriety. In the end, like the big homie 2Pac said, “ya gotta keep your head up.” So the next time you’re out under the stars indulging, reminiscing, smoke one for David. R.I.P.
Ryan Fitzgerald, originally from Milwaukee, WI, is a student of history, a lover of music, competitive games, and a cannabis enthusiast. He writes about cannabis history, culture and current events.