Six Months Ago

Six months ago today I lost one of my best friends.  I had misplaced Derek in California with one of my other best friends, April.  And then six months ago today, she called me crying.   Twelve or thirteen years ago Derek’s father barely survived an aortic aneurysm.  At least, I think that’s what it was.  We were all in high school and the man almost died because his aorta ruptured or something, I remember that much.  Anyway, the point is his Dad almost died and almost died about a million times after that over the years over the same thing.  So when April called me and through tears said “it’s Derek” I immediately thought his Dad had passed away.  But then April said “No.  It’s Derek.” and the concrete floor beneath my feet seemed to disappear very suddenly.  I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach and I couldn’t catch my breath.  I couldn’t catch my breath for about a month afterward.  Nobody knew yet just what had happened, just that he had collapsed and was gone before anyone could help.  When I was less hysterical, I thought he most likely died of the same problem his father had had all these years.  But Derek was 29, this doesn’t happen to 29 year olds.  Later that week it was confirmed that yes, these things do happen to 29 year olds.  The official cause of death was an aortic dissection, or in laments terms, his aorta (the main blood vessel that goes into your heart) tore away from his heart.  The morbid side of me still wonders if he bleed to death or drown or suffocated in his own blood.  I don’t know why I wonder these things, but I do.  I think it has something to do with wanting to know if he suffered and how long it took.   Three months later, his father also passed away.

He died on a Sunday.  The next day I dragged myself out of bed and took the twins to school.  A few hours later I dragged myself back out of bed to go pick them up.  I stood in the hallway with one of the other mom’s, just the two of us in a totally silent preschool.  She said “Gosh it’s so quiet in here, it’s like a morgue.”   She didn’t know and I didn’t tell her.

The following weekend was his funeral.  It was so surreal, I still can’t believe it all happened.  We were all together again, the crew from high school, minus one.  Well actually he was there, he just wasn’t arguing with anyone or sneezing over the dog hair or laughing or driving us somewhere.  Derek was always the driver in our group.  The night before his funeral, we all gathered at Jon’s house and partied fairly hard.  We spent hours in his parents’ kitchen, just like we used to do, remembering all the crazy shit we did.  We all brought up old memories the rest of us had forgotten about.  The next day brought the funeral and a wake at our other parents’ house.  And by ‘other parents’ I mean a couple who has treated us all like their own, we gathered at their home most weekends during school.  After school we all have made it a point to visit them regularly.  When we come home for the holidays, we see them.  They are our other parents.  So they  hosted a wake for all us kids.  And we drank.  We held an international toast (one of the group was in another country at the time and couldn’t be there in person). We drank more.  There was more laughing and crying and laughing.   We played an exciting round of the dollar bet game.  How else do you say good-bye?

Our friend Jon deserves some honorable mention in all this.  Derek and April had lived together as roommates, not romantically, for about 8 or 9 years by this point.  I think.. maybe less.  I can’t remember but it was awhile.  Long enough that when she called me all I could think of was how I should go there and help her but I couldn’t leave my kids, plus I was in the middle of a semester.   So I couldn’t go and that made me feel even worse.  But Jon went.  He flew from New Orleans to Cali to be with April.  A couple days later he had to fly back to New Orleans, then home for the funeral, while April flew out as well.  Jon did what the rest of us wanted to do but couldn’t.

My sweet husband of course gets an honorable mention as well.  He did what a good husband is supposed to do, he just wrapped himself around me and didn’t let go.  To this day if I say “I was just thinking about Derek” he gives me a big hug and a kiss which is all anyone can do.  He came with me to the funeral and joined right in with the antics of my oldest and dearest friends.  He never had the chance to meet Derek but I think they would have gotten along.

This is probably the sappiest and saddest post I will ever write.  Or at least, I hope it is!  I have found in the past six months that grief is not an emotion I should bottle up with everything else or you end up crying in Borders for no apparent reason.

Regular updatery is soon to come.  I hope.


One Response to "Six Months Ago"

  • What is from the heart is not sappy, and is meant to come out. I wish I could still “kiss the boo-boo” and make it all better.

    1 mom said this (August 28, 2010 at 8:13 pm)