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My cousin Scott died on May 26, 2000. His heart stopped in his sleep. He was 25 years old. He was the closest person to me in attitude that I've ever known. You see, I've always felt like a composite of everybody I've ever known, my family most of all. I feel that I took most of myself from him. I took his love of reading, computers, and philosophy into my identity. I also took his arrogance, his penchant for getting his foot stuck in his mouth, and his open-mindedness.

I remember when I realized all these things. I was outside his apartment, waiting for the coroner to arrive. I remember my sister's graduation and my father's birthday occupying the same day, but I most vividly remember standing out by the storefront that occupied the space beneath his apartment. It was a generally shitty night in L.A. There was a light drizzle, and the pavement beneath my feet felt slick. I remember being the only one there who didn't cry, out of twenty-some family and friends who stood out there on that shitty night because my cousin did something stupid and got himself killed.

He was always such a neat-freak. He was the kind of guy who would make sure you included the hyphen when you wrote anal-retentive. Maybe that's why nitrous-oxide was his drug of choice. A clear, odorless gas, it must have seemed so clean to him. It didn't have the same stigma surrounding it that weed did; it was just a quick five-minute high with no repercussions....right? He had a bad heart. The NOs robbed his brain of oxygen, and when he passed out on his bed(as usual), he never woke up.

I remember when they moved him. They wouldn't let us upstairs, so we all just waited there and held each other; family, friends, ex-girlfriends of friends, whatever; and waited to say our final goodbyes. I remember how cold his forehead felt when I touched it. That feeling of dead flesh is something I'll never forget. I knew then for sure that he was just...gone. My cousin, my other self, was dead.

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