It was a cool April night. It wasn't a traditionally ass-biting cold night, but one of those nights where you definitely needed a jacket or sweatshirt. The air was moist, in the sense that when you took a breath you could feel the mist crawling into your lungs. It was a cool April night, and that's all that sticks out to me.
It's 8:30. The phone rings, and I figure it's my dad. He's out of town, per the usual so the phone ringing at this time of night is nothing out of the ordinary. I answer. It's Uncle Dave.
"Oh, Boo...you're home."
"Yes, why wouldn't I be? It's a school night."
"Can I talk to your mom?"
Like I said. Nothing out of the ordinary. I bring the phone to my mother and go about my business..which means I go about watching Fight Club on the new television in my room. I get bored of the movie, so I switch it off and go to bed. It's now 8:45.
10 minutes later.
Mom comes in and flips on the light. She says that she needs to speak with me.
"Alexandria,something happened to Frenchy. She had an accident---"
I ponder this for a moment, and think of a response:
"I told her to be careful. Is she okay?"
My mom gave me a look that I will never forget. It was one of sheer empathy....a look that you get when you know you're about to give someone really bad news. I know this look, because I've seen it at work (being in HR these days).
"No, she didn't make it."
I don't know what happened next, and really I remember flashbacks. If I were to tell you the emotions that I experienced at the time, none of it would make sense. Just envision me running out of my room and down the stairs. Hyperventilating because I don't know what else to do. Screaming. Screaming so loud I wake my 14 year old sister up. Everything seemed so irrational. I threw my shoes on and ran down the street. I could hear cries of desperation from outside her house. These are cries that I cannot explain, and when I think of them, it sends shivers down my spine. I didn't go inside. I couldn't.
I get back to my house, and check my phone. 3 missed calls, two texts. Maria. She is on her way over. We don't know what we're going to do when she gets to the house. It all just seemed like a good idea. She gets here and we go to her boyfriend's house. His dad is a Lake County Sheriff, and we're thinking that he might have more information. Although nothing is certain now. All we know is that she's gone.
No news. Nothing new to learn....and we know now for sure that she is gone.
It's April 20, 2005--and I have just experienced my first, real, loss.
When I get home I fall asleep quickly. I blame the exhaustion---most likely stemming from crying. As I sleep I have a very strange dream, and it goes a little something like this:
Frenchy, Maria and I are getting ready for prom. Frenchy is running late per the usual, and really she is nowhere to be found. In my dream I attribute it to her getting ready for prom in the bathroom or something. As we're all ready to go, I see Frenchy standing in the corner of her baby blue room. Dressed to the nine's....looking as radiant as an angel. She stands there quietly, looking at me as if she has something to say.
"Frenchy, let's go, we're going to be late.."
"Alex, you go and have fun. I can't stay here...."
"What are you talking about. Stop being weird, we have to go."
"You don't understand, I can't stay here, but I'll be with you always in your dreams"
With that, she disappeared.
In the months following the funeral, the accident itself--I would have dreams of her and she would always say the same thing:
"You don't understand, I cannot stay here...but I will always be with you in your dreams."
As time passed, I put energy into fixing those who were grieving for her. If that meant doing hours of homework with her little brother or going for long car rides with her boyfriend---then that is what I was going to do in order to help those individuals cope. I am not sure that I ever coped. I am not even sure I would know how to begin coping now. It's funny how the pain sort of dulls after awhile. It dulls, but it's never fully gone. Much like what I am feeling in regards to He Who Must Not Be Named.
Sometimes on my way to work, I think about how things would have been if she were still here. We would have gone to prom, which was three days after the accident. We would have gone to ISU, and roomed together. She would have become a teacher, like I did. Or would she? I don't know what would have happened, but I'd like to think that she would have made the most of her talents, because she was probably one of the most beautiful people I know.
I suppose I write about this now, because through this hard time, I have been asking her to be with me--because feeling like she is at my back makes coping a bit easier. As I drove home from a personal training session today (which I felt worse after going than I did before I went--but that is a story for another day) I thought about what she would think of me now. Would she be upset with me, because I put so much time and investment into something that really wasn't working when it ended? Would she try and encourage me---and support this endeavor that I am currently undertaking? Would she hug me when I cry? Mostly....
Would she be proud of me?
Would she? I cannot say. I know she would be proud that I am trying to make something of myself. I sometimes feel so alone without her physically here. Then I snap out of it, and know that more than anything in this life I am not alone. Ever. There are so many good people around me....more than I ever really knew I had. I guess I just miss her.....
So here is how I can end this, and I know that it's a short one, and it's going to be a bit cliche. When you lose someone like this---embrace who they were. It might feel sad, it might even feel a bit sick in the head....but the truth of the matter is their time on this Earth, had a very specific purpose. They were meant to be here for a short time, because they made such an impact on the lives of those around them. They say only the good die young, and maybe that's true. Maybe it's bullshit. Maybe it's something we tell ourselves in order to cope with the pain of losing them so unjustly. What I do know, is that I had to grow up very fast....when this happened. I had to go on living. I had to go school (the very day after the accident), I had to graduate, I had to go on living a life that she would approve of. In this life, people come and go. Some by choice, and some--well--some have go because they don't have a choice. In the past 7 years, I've experienced so much. I found a love that I thought would last forever....but I have found that nothing lasts forever.
At the end the day, all we can hope, is that the person we loved and still love so much is watching over us. Laughing at us when we trip on the way to the gym, alerting us when we almost rear end that person because we were texting and driving like we're never supposed to do....and placing their hand on our shoulders when we cry after leaving the gym--because we have become such a disappointment to ourselves. I know and am confident that she is watching over me. There have been too many signs to not believe that she is with me. I just hope she can give me some light in the darkness that I feel at times. She's never failed at letting me know she is with me when I need her most. An angel always at my back....and always with me in my dreams....