Luke was born two months after my little sister, who many will know as being a central part of my world! As a small kid, I would have been close to Luke. I babysat him and his older brother. I watched him make his holy communion.
It would be nice to sit here and say that we had a close relationship as we got older. Sadly, that's not the case. We drifted apart, the way age gaps and distance often cause relationships to change.
The last time I saw him was the night of my wedding. He came to the party and he spent the evening joking and laughing with my family. He congratulated me. He thanked me for inviting him, and, what I remember is our last conversation. He wanted to go to bed and was making his younger brother go with him. I started slagging him, telling him he was an old man and promised that if he went to bed I would make sure Matthew was alright. But he wouldn't go without him.
If I had have known that night was the last time I would have an opportunity to spend time with him, I would have made more of an effort to see him.
I haven't been to many funerals in my life. That's not a complaint! And the ones I've been to have been pretty sad. But there was only one that was as sad as Luke's. In the days after his death, I learned a lot about my little cousin. He was great with his hands. He was happiest tinkering with bikes and shooting with his dad. He had some amazing people around him that love him dearly. He was popular and funny and I wish I had spent time getting to know the man he had become.
His passing has made me realise that your whole life can change in an instant. Nothing is forever and nothing is guaranteed. It's important to remember that there may not be a tomorrow. I need to stop putting things off. I need to stay connected to the people in my life and never take for granted that they will be there tomorrow to get to know better, tell them I love them or listen to what they have to say.
4 weeks ago today, our family chain was broken. The link that was Luke has changed how our chain looks. It can never be repaired, the link can never be replaced. His parents and brothers and sister need to learn to live with the hole he has left behind. And, from what I have learned of him, it is a big hole.
Rest In Peace Luke. You will be forever in our hearts and our thoughts.