My cousin, Egoitz Uberuaga Aranburu, died yesterday, January 13, on his birthday. He had just turned 33.
Like with most of my dad’s family, I didn’t get to know Egoitz until my first visit to Euskal Herria, back in 1991, when I went to Donostia to study Basque. Egoitz was only 6 years old back then. I remember how, at a big family dinner at the family basseri, surrounding a table in the foyer just in front of the doors leading to the barn where the animals were kept, Egoitz and his sister, Eneritz, with some cajoling from their parents, pulled out their trikitixa and tambourine and played for their American cousin.
Egoitz grew into an amazing young man. He had a giant heart, always full of life. He was often the center of attention because of his outsized presence in the room. He was full of a restless energy; his Facebook page was full of photos from his travels all over the world. His work was to help others less fortunate than himself.
He always went out of his way to make time to see me when I visited. During our last visit to the Basque Country, he joined us during a day trip to Donostia, hitting the pintxos bars and sharing a few drinks during a break in classes. His smile was infectious, just as it had been when he was 6.
As I watch his Facebook feed, it was obvious how many lives he touched. He had spent the night before his birthday with his sister at a Gatibu concert and people were wishing him Happy Birthday. It was especially heartbreaking watching his friends post “Zorionak”, not knowing he had left us only hours before.
They always say that life is wasted on the young. Egoitz is one of those that took life by the horns and lived it his way. He filled his all-too-short life with more than most of us that live twice as long ever experience. He lived life to the edge and made the most of the time he had. He was truly an inspiration.
The words on his obituary sum up his spirit better than I ever could:
Mila esker bizitza politagoa egitea gatik,
beti eskuzabal, beti irribarretsu,
beti dana emateko prest,
txori alai, beti libre, beti aske, beti pozik.
Thank you for making life nicer,Translation by me, with an assist from Google Translate.
always generous, always smiling,
always ready to give,
sweet bird, always free, always independent, always happy.
Goian bego, Egoitz. You will always be in my heart. The Basque Country won’t be the same without you.