Around the same time I met Jonathan and was introduced to my first taste of army life, I found out that my cousin Scott had enlisted. I quickly went from having no military connections in my life at all to having army in my love life, and army in my family life. Suddenly: camo everywhere.
I remember talking to Scott after he graduated from basic training and, though he was the same kind, charming man I’d grown to know behind his black leather and spiked cuffs as he grew, I’m sure all his friends and family would agree that there was a new fire in him. He was proud to be serving his country, and we were all so proud in his pride, and in our own.
My first true memories of Scott are from the years just before his Bar Mitzvah, when my family would fly from Los Angeles to New Jersey to see his family. One summer, staying on the East Coast with Scott, his mom, and his two younger sisters Pam and Elyse, I remember having my first true taste of the sticky, hot humidity I’ve come to know very intimately while living and commuting around DC. We were gathered on their front lawn in New Jersey and, as I stepped outside to join my cousins, I saw the sky begin to light up with little green iridescent flashes. It was the first time I’d ever seen fireflies. Scott had a glass jar resting on the ground (Pam tells me they used to top the jars with poked-through aluminum foil to complete the lanterns) and, with both hands, he scooped a flashing green orb out of the sky, and offered it to me.
It was at that moment I realized that fireflies are also called “lightning bugs” because they are, in fact, bugs, and I didn’t like them one bit. As soon as the little flashing bug touched my outreached hand, I screamed, shook it off, and ducked as it flew away while Scott laughed at me.
Last week, we lost Scott. The love his family and friends have shown and received during this difficult time has been extraordinary; watching his loved ones come together to celebrate the joy and love that his life brought to all who knew him is a true testament to the kindness of his character, and the strength of his memory.
Scott returned from his first tour in Afghanistan just as I was preparing to send Jonathan off for his second tour last year. I hope to always remember my cousin as the proud soldier, son, brother, and fiancé he was when he returned home.
Though we did not lose Scott in battle, he understood and suffered the injury and pain of war. If you are interested in helping Scott’s memory live on through helping others, his family greatly appreciates donations to the Wounded Warrior Project in his name. If you would like to donate, please follow this link to the Wounded Warrior Project website and indicate in the “Honoree and Acknowledgment Information” section of the form that your donation is in memory of Scott Ganz.