I am shocked. I’m really fucking pissed. You shouldn’t be gone. People aren’t supposed to die at 37. But my shock doesn’t make much sense to me. We all knew it was the end. For several days we waited for updates. Hoping for a miracle but knowing in our hearts that your life was ending. Those days, for me, were a flood of memories. Lying in bed at night thinking and laughing. Remembering you.
We partied like underage rock stars. Drank cheap and truly horrible liquor, or I did (Aftershock!). We ate ramen noodles and macaroni and cheese. We watched movies, had cocktail parties and went on long weekend vacations at the cabin. Slipping downstream on the pontoon boat and doing shots of Jaeger. We traded loves and helped each other through heartbreak. We jumped in pools at night that didn’t belong to us and ran around after dark during thunderstorms. Invincible. Alive. The old gang.
Our first house was a dream. I’m still not quite sure how we charmed that nice couple into renting their clean house to a bunch of twenty year olds. And looking back we were totally wrong to have left the carpet in such shitty condition. We didn't own a vaccum. The grown up in me feels bad about that. They had no idea the parties and sleepovers that would happen there. The hundreds of foil stars that would be hung from the ceiling. The band that would be formed there. Calling radio stations, E’s Buffalo Bill impression and Soul Coughing.
When I excitedly bought my first lemon of a car and it promptly took a shit and sat in the driveway. You guys drove me to work. When I brought my Navy boyfriend around to meet you for the first time, imagine his shock when he walked into a crime scene to celebrate my twentieth birthday. You all knew me so well. Best birthday surprise yet. Bodies strewn about, bloodied. Crime scene tape. Surprise! He never called me again. He wasn’t The One. And then there was “Mike”, who wouldn’t take no for an answer until it came from you. You would have knocked that guy around, I have no doubt. And that might have been the first time I crushed on you. I swooned a bit listening to you protect me.
The foundation of the second house we lived in was the shape of a hill. Climbing up from the back of the house, peaking in the kitchen and descending into the living room. 1020. That’s where I remember you most when my mind starts to wander. There was a mole living in our kitchen and a million spiders lurking in the bathroom. You were my spider catcher. You saved me hundreds of times from the clutches of those terrifying beasts. We played Boggle and Scrabble. We watched Mystery Science Theater 3K. I watched the band practice in the garage. We stayed up all night long talking about love and our hopes for life. We were young. Our whole lives in front of us.
Christmas nights. Campfires. Porch beers. Pre-drinking. V. Macrame hanging lamps. Whole body swallowing hugs. Blockbuster and Best Buy. The Town Tavern then The Venice then The Loft, and finally The Zephyr. This is how I will remember you. This is how you will live in my heart. A sly smile, a loyal heart and a killer Chewbacca impression. A fierce protector. A gentle soul. And the biggest and most beautiful heart. My Chaddy.
Rest in Peace, my friend.