Tribute to Tosh Bixby

December 8, 1974-May 8, 2024

My cousin Tosh and I grew up miles apart–Tosh in Oregon, me in Florida. Not only did we live on opposite sides of the country, but opposite corners, as well, never in proximity of each other. My family made it out West once—the only time Tosh and I came face to face. I don’t believe Tosh said two words to me that entire visit—maybe because I’m a girl and had cooties, or maybe because extreme shyness plagued both of us as kids at six and seven years old. I laugh now, as both of us most certainly found our voices in adulthood and neither have been shy in using them. But, I digress.

Decades passed before Facebook reconnected Tosh and me. I don’t remember what brought us together, but we ended up bonding over one simple fact: family is everything. Our Bixby upbringing gave us common ground—calling each other out and speaking our minds with no filter. Tosh would be the first to tell me, “Nah, I’m not down with that,” if he didn’t agree with something, then he’d go about educating me on how he rolled. What you saw is what you got. You could count on it. No games. No hemming and hawing. Raw honesty. Translucent context—always—whether you liked it or not. That described both of us to a tee. Genuine Bixby cousins.

Looking back on Tosh’s and my relationship, it’s amazing we ever learned how to communicate with each other—Tosh with run-on sentences and slang verbiage, me with proper punctuation and clear cut dialogue—but, somehow, we managed to get the important content across, whether it be about tacos, sports, our fierce love of family, or God. Even when we didn’t see eye to eye, Tosh’s love didn’t waver. He understood the importance of authenticity and keeping it real, frequently ending conversations with, “I love you, Cuzzo.” Sometimes, he’d inject the same sentiment into text messages or public posts, simply to make sure “we good.” Our banter often consisted of emoji eyes being rolled at me and Tosh laughing at our differences, but he never tried to change me, respectfully confirming, “You do you.” I cherish those memories most.

I video chatted with Tosh the same week he got his cancer diagnosis in April 2024. As you would expect, no plans surfaced of him going down without a fight—he had too much living left to do. I considered making a trip to Oregon to encourage him in his battle, knowing he’d likely never make it to Florida and the warm weather he craved so much anytime soon. He didn’t know I had been pondering this possibility. Imagine my shock when I received a text message from my dad, May 9, 2024, Thursday afternoon, informing me my dad had received the following message from Tosh’s sister Mandy: “Good morning, Tosh took a drastic turn for the worse yesterday morning. Yesterday was a long day of grieving and preparing for end of life. He passed away last night.” I spent the next several minutes in ugly cry mode, letting tears saturate my face. This isn’t the ending I saw coming—at least not so quickly.

After Tosh’s death, I read a post on his Facebook timeline by one of his friends. It shared that as Tosh’s life crept to a close here on earth, Tosh insisted everyone leave the room. He had a “disagreement with God,” and Tosh—being the fighter he’s always been—needed to hash things out with God. And you know what? God showed up. You know how I know? Because that’s who God is. He never stops pursuing our hearts and hearing us out. He’s not surprised by our hurt, angered by our feelings, or overwhelmed by our disappointment. He wrestles with us until fear is replaced with peace, restlessness morphs into contentment, and disbelief is shattered with the promise of Heaven. Tosh knew the Man in charge, and God knew what Tosh needed to have closure. I take great comfort in knowing Tosh knew Who to run to in his greatest hours of need, and I’m thankful he’s no longer in pain. Rest well, Cuzzo! I will see you in the morning on that great reunion day! You can count on it.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *