Saturday, February 12, 2011

Final Good Bye.

Since the day I found out Chad passed away, I straddled a fine line between perfectly fine and a blubbering mess. I had no idea how to express what I was feeling into words and it was evident Austin didn't understand. I don't fault him for it, but there were definitely a few days of turmoil.

For some reason, I woke up Friday morning feeling better. Lighter than I had in days. I don't know why, especially considering the visitation/viewing was that night. As the day wore on at work, I became more and more anxious. Knowing what I was going to have to face. My first best friend would be there. Lying in a casket. For everyone to see.

When we got there my eyes were immediately drawn to him. I forced myself not to look. Pretend he wasn't lying there, feet away from me. I concentrated on his mourning family. On his Mom, who was hugging everyone. Almost like she was comforting them as they wept into her shoulder. I hugged her for the first time in years, and told her I loved her, too. We sat down near the back and I couldn't tear my eyes away from his Mother. Leaning over the casket and what I imagined to be her straightening his clothes. Smoothing his hair. I tried to imagine what it would be like for me if I was in her shoes, and I couldn't even begin to.

We eventually sat with his older sister. We talked and laughed and remembered. And I thought I'd be okay. I was at ease with her and our memories. I was able to unclench my jaw for the first time all night. His Mom sat down to take a break from all the well wishing mourners, so I got up to tell her good bye. I hugged the family and walked out. I was feet away from my car when I stopped.

I have always said I will never understand why people choose to have an open casket. Why would you want your last memory of someone to be them, a shell of their former selves, lying in a box? But I stopped. Something was tugging at me. I had a sudden overwhelming urge to see him. To say good bye. I turned around and headed back inside, straight for him. I don't think anyone saw me. My Mom and Sister were still there in the front row, with all of his family. But I don't think they saw me.

I walked right up to him. It didn't look like him. Not the boy I remember. Where was the crooked grin? But it was him. Those were definitely his hands. I told him I loved him. And good bye. And just stood there for a moment wondering if there was anything else I should say. There wasn't. I turned and practically ran out managed to choke out a "bye" to his brother who passed me on the way out. I got to my car and lost it. I cried. Hard. All the way home.

When I got home I went straight for my room. Austin followed and I was finally able to put it into words.

"I just loved him a lot".

And that was the truth of it. No more or less.

I finally got it all out and I was a much better person after. I felt better about going to the funeral, which was today. I was confident that I would be able to make it through okay. And I did. The service was nice and his sister put together an amazing slide show. So many familiar pictures of the little boy I remembered. Even some of him in the Rainbows shirt my Mom made us. We drove from the funeral home to the cemetery and witnessed the most touching scene of the entire service.

Chad's step father is a tow truck driver. Has been since I've known him. He owns his own towing company here in town. When we left the church, what looked like trucks from every towing company in town flanked us from the front, backs and sides. The were our escorts. For some reason in this town, police do not provide escorts for funeral processionals. Also in this town, people don't realize when a processional is driving through, you're supposed to get out of the way and let everyone pass. The trucks took care of that.

They zoomed all around us, blocking every single intersection so that everyone could pass through together. Even blocking the entrance and exit ramps on the interstate. It was amazing. We laughed when other cars honked in fury and cheered them on, thinking about how much Chad would have loved this. When we got the to cemetery, we rolled down our windows and told them how amazing they were and thanked them so much. I think it touched all of us tremendously.

The graveside service was short and sweet. We said our good byes to the family and my Mom promised his Mom she'd be there bright and early Monday morning to make sure she was out of bed and okay. My sister and I placed flowers on his casket. And we left. I couldn't help thinking that's it. But it's not really. Not for his family who will be mourning for a while. Maybe forever, even if it's not as obvious. I'll always love him. I'll always think about the fun we had and the bond we shared.

I guess in the end the only thing left to do is remember and be thankful for the time we had with him, instead of mourning the time that was lost.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


This will probably be a very hard post for me to write.

I learned yesterday that a very close childhood friend passed away. It's hard for me to put in to words how close we were. We knew each other from the time we were 3 or 4 and were always like brother and sister. His whole family was like my family. His older sister lived with us for awhile, and I can't count the number of times my sister and I stayed with them. Just today my Mom was talking about the last time he stayed the night with us...when we were in middle school. My Dad had a bit of a freak out about that. But honestly, we were too close to be anything other than friends. We were teased mercilessly in elementary school about being boyfriend and girlfriend. My Mom said I would come home crying about it.

In the last few years, we've lost touch. It's not surprising given the circumstances, but sad nonetheless. The last contact I had with him was through myspace. I went back and read those messages and cried. I never responded to his last one. I don't know why. I guess because I never get on myspace. I'm pretty sure today was the first time I've logged on in over a year. I hope he didn't think I was ignoring him. I hope he knew how much I cherish those childhood memories. The pictures of us in our underwear watching cartoons. Jumping on the trampoline at his house. Playing video games. Him riding the bus home with me without telling either of our parents first.

Anyone who knows me, knows I have issues with accepting death. Death terrifies me more than I can really describe. When it hits so close to home like this, it sends me into an anxiety ridden frenzy. I can't imagine how his family must be feeling. I should call. But I just don't know what to say. I'm sorry? That just doesn't seem to do the situation justice.

His funeral will most likely be sometime this week. This is the first funeral in my lifetime that I've thought I should be there. The thought of it is so painful. But I can't bear the thought of not going. If nothing else just to give his family a hug.

Life is so short. It's so fleeting. Time like this just make me want to hold everyone I love close and never let them go. As soon as Punky wakes up from this nap, he's going to get cuddled until he can't stand it.

Give everyone close to you an extra hug tonight.