Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lost and Found and Lost

I have just returned from a trip to Mississippi I never wanted to make.
I helped bury a friend this week.

My parents have lived in the same house for going on 33 years. All those many years - they have had the same neighbors. And we have always said they are the best neighbors money CAN'T buy. You could not special order better folks to live next door to for 33 years.

And that's a long time to live in one place. My parents home, the neighborhood and our neighbors are integral components of my Sense of Place. When my spirit goes home, this is where it goes. The houses, the dirt, the trees, and especially the people tie me to who I am. It was disconcerting when Katrina came through and wiped out many of the trees I had played in as a kid.

Losing a person from this place is devastating to my inner compass. I ache for myself, to be sure. But I also ache for his mother, father, sister, step daughter, and bride. Yes, he had been married less than a year to his soul mate when he was taken from us.

DW was five years older than me. We were never best buddies in the secret-telling sense. He pestered the life out of me as only a big brother type can. I remember whacking him with a hairbrush during one of his pester sessions and BREAKING the hair brush. He just laughed at me. (He knew my Mom was going to KILL me.)

But when it came down to brass tacks, DW was the one who beat up the neighborhood bully for bothering me. I knew he loved me - in a aggravating ingratiating way.

We grew up. Went to college, moved away, got married. Me, to a fantastic man. DW, on the other hand, did not have that same fortune in his first marriage.

When I had babies, his Mom and Dad told me they would like to adopt my kids as their own. I was beyond flattered and THRILLED. Due to various circumstances, they believed they would never have biological grandkids. And mine would fit the bill. So they became Momma G and Poppa D. I was in Mississippi when Smith was born and Momma G was in the delivery room with us. She was the one insisting I "Hurry Up!" Apparently her third grandchild was not getting here quick enough...

Poppa D picked Savvy up at daycare that day and brought her to the hospital to meet her new little brother. And when we tell the story of when Brother was born - that's her line, "Poppa D brought me to the hospital!"

Through the years, Momma G and Poppa D kept me updated on DW and where his life was taking him. They were pained over his relationships, his lack of direction for his life, and various other challenges. They never once expressed disappointment in him to me - but always a strong desire for life to be better for him.

DW loved his parents silly. One would be hard pressed to find a bigger Momma's Boy. In the early 90's he gave his mother one of his kidneys without batting an eye.

And simply put - he thought his Daddy walked on water and could do no wrong. I have no doubt there were many years where the only thing that pulled him through was the love and support of his parents.

And I know - at the same time Momma G and Poppa D kept me up on DW - they were telling him of my challenges, missteps and triumphs. At one time I know he was reading this blog to keep up with me. He even told me how much he enjoyed it.

A few years ago, his marriage to the first wife came to an end.

And not long after, I got word that a new woman was on the scene. And Momma G and Poppa D really liked her. I was told she hadn't really wanted to go out with DW at first. (THIS I could understand!) But go out they did and it wasn't long before Cupid had his way with them.

In my life I have seen men (and some women) with untapped potential wandering aimlessly through life until they met the right person. And that right person doesn't necessarily make the lost wanderer a better person, but serves as the catalyst for bringing out the best in them.

And this is how it was for DW and J. He was always kind, gentle, funny, charming (choke), and brilliant. But he was the wanderer. Lost in his life without serious purpose or a real sense of direction. Falling in love with J gave him purpose, direction and a reason to be the man he was predestined to be.

But we will never know how this love story should have ended.

In January of 2008, he went for his yearly physical.
That was the beginning of the end. The disease he was ultimately diagnosed with has no cure and is very rare.

Realizing that time was precious and nothing is certain, they married in May, 2008.

DW left J on Sunday, January 4, 2009. Before their first wedding anniversary.

I am told his passing was peaceful and he was surrounded by people that loved and adored him. He was aware up to the very end and his last I love you was for his mother. He had previously told J he loved her and did not want to leave her.

I hurt for Momma G, Poppa D and J. For his sister and step daughter too.

It's not natural for a parent to outlive a child.
Or for a bride to bury her groom.

and my sense of place is rattled. altered forever.

I love you DW...
always did...

but if you tell anyone, I'LL deny it!


Anonymous said...

Very powerful... thanks for sharing it, Lynann

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful testimony to the special bond between two special people. I have my own DW story, and one day will share it with you. Peggy

Anthony Thaxton said...

Thank you, Tracey.

Not Fainthearted said...

What a beautifully written tribute to your friend. May he rest in peace and all who loved him find comfort.

Lil Sis said...

I'm sorry for your loss T Cole, hard hugs and lots of love being sent your way babe.

Take care of you,

Wien. said...

Oh T Cole, I'm so sorry for your loss and for DW's family. God must have really needed him to take him at this time in his life. Big hugs to you.

Bobby Thaxton said...

What a well written piece. Every now and then memories of him appear in my head, and while I am thinking about how it hurts and he should still be around, I can only imagine what Aunt Gwen and Uncle Don are having to deal with. I appreciate your thoughts...

Rich S. said...

What a wonderful tribute to an equally wonderful man.

I, much like you, spent a number of years growing up next to D.W. and experienced much of the same...He pestered me unlike few others could...However, unlike the others, I knew there existed a kinship behind D.W.'s picking!!!

Sad, but very much true, as a Vocational Minister, I have to do all I can to separate my emotions from the pain that accompanies the loss of many with whom I have cared for deeply.

Even this morning, I will attend the funeral for a great man who loved me deeply...and the feeling was most definitely mutual! However, I almost have to put on battle armor, to anesthetize myself from the pain I hold within. I know that sounds pathetic, and a horrible way to grieve...especially for a minister....Yes, it is sad, but equally as true.

When my mom called about D.W., I knew what she was going to say before she uttered a word...That kind of 6th sense develops in Ministers who deal with death more so than they ever care to admit, or would ever wish on anyone.

Nevertheless, it seemed as though D.W. fought an uphill battle most of his living years...However, unlike many others, he persevered until the end...and remained true to that spirit of a "loving little boy” or “big brother" until end.

My prayers go out to all of those grieving his loss.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Very moving and interesting. I can relate.

buddha_girl said...

I am so very sorry. Losses in life like DW leave gaping holes in our lives and force us to take stock.

Know you are loved.

Reg said...

That was so touching!! I'm crying at my desk.... I'm sorry about your loss. I guarantee he's waiting for you somewhere and has THE BEST practical joke planned for you when you arrive (which will hopefully be many, many decades from now!).