The funeral was beautiful. The building was filled to the brim with people. Kevin had been so loved, he had touched so many lives. I wish he could have seen all of them gathered there that day. Becca’s mother Linda had made a DVD of music and pictures of Kevin. It was wonderful! They played the DVD on repeat until the service started. Every image that flashed his big goofy grin onto the screen brought tears to my eyes and filled the room with his spirit. It was nice to be around family. It helped to distract me from the brutal empty feeling slowly tearing me apart on the inside.
My sister had flown in from Seattle shortly before the funeral. I was so happy she was there. Even though I am older than my sister, she has always seemed to know just how to keep me whole and how to put me back together again if I broke. Her and I were very close. She knew Kevin meant everything to me. She knew she needed to be there in case I fell apart. She stood next to me at the funeral stealing glances, watching my face every few minutes or so to make sure I was okay.
The tears started lining up and collecting at the edges of my eyes but didn’t dare to fall yet. At that moment Becca and the girls walked in to sit in the front row. Kevin’s three girls : Bryanna, Shannon, and Kiera dressed in beautiful red plaid dresses. After seeing them a flood of thoughts and emotions filled my head. God, Kevin loved them so much. Those poor girls. Poor Becca. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to tell them their father was gone. It brought back vivid memories of my mother having to tell me my father was dead when I was younger. “Bye daddy, I love you.” My childlike voice said. A flash of me kissing my father in his coffin filled my mind. The tears couldn’t hold on any longer. They started to run down my cheeks allowing the full-fledged sobs and sniffles to begin their performance. Sarah, my sister, grabbed my hand. She saw the girls as well and I know she was reliving the same pain that I was. The warmth and tight squeeze of Sarah’s hand helped to keep me whole. Without her support, I am pretty sure I would have had a full-on psychotic break that day. With the amount of pain surging through me, I can’t even begin to imagine how Kevin’s mother, stepfather, brother, and sister were feeling. It was a beautiful service, but an awful day for all of us.
There were many other events after the funeral with various groups of friends to celebrate Kevin’s life. He would have loved them! The gatherings were loud, filled with punk and Irish music, whiskey, and stories of Kevin and the old days. We all laughed and sang into the night. It truly was a celebration of life. As the night went on the songs and laughter slowly turned to tears and hugs. Seeing the heartbreak in his friend’s eyes was overwhelming. More and more I started to realize that I was probably not the only one that allowed Kevin to become their world or their hero.
At one point in the night, there was a split second where I thought it had all been a mistake; that Kevin had played an unforgivable practical joke and had just walked up to me to laugh about it. “Hey Taw-shina”. I heard behind me. My eyes flew open and I swung around thinking it was Kevin. It wasn’t. The man standing in front of me was Steve. Kevin’s lifelong friend. He only knew how to say my name that way because he had just heard my name recited by Kevin. He saw the disappointment in my eyes and knew right away that he had sounded like Kevin to my ears. We didn’t know each other very well, but he knew how much I loved Kevin. He grabbed me and hugged me. I started to cry. I tried to compose myself and pull away, but he wouldn’t let go. He knew what to do. He held on until I stopped. He tried to squeeze the pain out of me just like I used to do for Kevin. So many others wrapped me in open arms of love and mutual grief that night as well. I left there still feeling empty and broken without Kevin, but I did feel like I had gained another family. We were bonded together now. We were all bonded by our deep love and loss for the same great man.
Life slowly started to go back to normal, as normal as things could be after all of that tragedy. We all did our best to put what armor on that we could manage to go out and face the world again. The grief process is slow and everyone goes through it differently : Some of us get angry. Some get bitter. Some reckless. Some get lost in darkness. Some try to forget. Some go through them all. I drank, I drank heavily, and I shielded myself with what love I had in my life at the time, my boyfriend, Eric. His love for me became a small temporary band-aid placed over a large festering wound. It was only a matter of time before that wound spread. No one’s love was going to heal it, no one’s love but my own.
Sometime had gone by, most of that time I had spent drinking and crying. Eric had done his best to console me and survive my depression and melancholy. We decided to go to Atlantic City with some friends. I did my best to be social and entertaining. I had gotten very good at the whole “fake happy” thing. Sex was honestly the only time that I was able to forget the pain for a moment. I used it like a drug to get moments of peace. At the end of our night in Atlantic City we all went back to the hotel. We had drank a lot. The booze had crippled my “fake happy” mask. I was unraveling. I wanted to walk. I needed to walk. I couldn’t breathe. Eric wouldn’t let me leave the hotel room. I am so glad he didn’t! I was trying to walk around by myself in Atlantic City, drunk out of my mind, in the middle of the night! That would not have ended well. It turned into a big fight, and Eric ended up going to bed.
I went out onto the balcony. I started talking to Kevin. I know. I am trying Kevin. It’s so hard. I can’t do this without you. I miss you so much. I began to cry. I leaned against the railing. The wind caressed my tear covered face. We were up on a very high floor. It had to be higher than ten stories up if I remember correctly. I looked over the railing down into the street where everything looked so small and so far away. My heart ached so badly. I wanted the pain to stop. The thought of closing my eyes and falling forward seemed incredibly soothing. The wind called to me. It pulled me forward. I just wanted to see him again. I needed to hear his voice and feel his safe embrace once more. I knew it was a fantasy. Kevin was gone and he wasn’t coming back! My heart and mind kept reminding me that he was gone. Day after day those thoughts sent surges of pain through me, continually knocking me down every time I tried to forget or tried to heal. I was so tired of the pain. I couldn’t take it anymore! The thought of closing my eyes and landing on that far away street below was so tempting. I craved anything that would make the excruciating pain go away.
I stepped on the first bar of the railing. The wind blew stronger, whipping my hair all around me. “I’m coming Kevin.” I whispered to him. “I can’t do this without you.” I stepped on the second bar of the railing. The wind roared in my ears. I looked down at the faraway street again. My heart was pounding but my eyes were glazed over and I began to smile. No more pain. I just don’t want to feel anymore! My smile grew a bit bigger. I felt a wave of peace flow through me. I lifted my foot to step over the last bar of the railing when my friend burst out of the door and onto the balcony. He didn’t say a word. He grabbed me and pulled me off the railing.
Once I was back on the balcony I broke out in tears. “Why did you do that!?” I screamed at my friend. I was so ready. I was so happy. The pain was almost gone for good. My friend stared at me dumbfounded. “What!?” I just saved your life! What were you doing!?” I glared at him. “Forget about it! You wouldn’t understand.” I was crying and staring out into the distance. I was so close. He grabbed my arm. “Maybe I will understand, try me.” He scanned my face trying to bring me back to the real world. I took a breath, lit a cigarette and decided to tell him everything.
We talked for hours. Being able to pour my heart out and take off my “fake happy” mask for awhile really helped. My friend didn’t try to fix me or to take away the pain. He just listened. Sometimes that is all a person needs. My friend saved my life that night. I had been angry with him at first. I felt so close to Kevin on that railing. I felt him calling me. My friend stole that moment away from me. I wasn’t thinking rationally, I just wanted to crawl into my protective forcefield and hide from the world. I eventually came to the conclusion that I was grateful that he had saved my life that night and that I would be able to see another sunrise again. It took a long time though, each month that went by I pushed my pain deeper and deeper inside of me. My wound appeared to heal on the outside, but rapidly grew on the inside.
With each year that went by mine and Eric’s relationship began to crumble. The honeymoon phase was well over. My depression and grieving invaded our bubble of happiness. He had changed a lot as well. Where I had once felt safe and loved, I was now surrounded by deceit and drama. Our relationship had become toxic.
I had caught Eric in another lie one night. It caused a monumental fight. We were in a texting battle and I was drinking myself sick. He was tired of my mellow drama and depression. I was tired of all his lies and scams. I jumped into my car and started driving. I kept texting him that I was so tired and I just wanted to sleep. My eyes were filled with tears, my mind was spinning. I am happy I didn’t hurt anyone that night. I was so intoxicated, I should not have been driving! All I could think about was stopping the pain. I just wanted to sleep. I was tired of putting the “fake happy” mask on. I was tired of being strong for people around me. I was tired of trying. I was tired of life. I wanted to sleep forever. I wanted Kevin. I wanted to feel safe and loved again.
I miraculously arrived at the quarry without an accident. The night air was brisk and refreshing. I looked up at the stars dazed and lost in my mind. I found the path to the quarry. I’m coming Kevin. I am coming to be with you forever. I walked over the branches and brush, led by the moonlight. I made it up to the top and stood there. I drew in a deep breath, taking in the smells of the quarry. Kevin.
I walked some more to get to the tree where Kevin fell. When I made it there I started talking to him. I’m so sorry I failed you Kevin. I miss you so much. You were hurting and I didn’t help you. I didn’t catch you when you needed me to. I can’t be strong anymore. I can’t be my own hero, I need you! I can’t do this without you! I am so tired. I closed my eyes and held onto the large tree branch where he fell. I lifted one foot out over the ledge. I could hear the tiny pebbles and small rocks cascade down the cliff. The sound echoed in the silence of the night. The branch creaked with the new weight I had put onto it. I took a breath and closed my eyes. I smiled and said : I’m coming Kevin…I’m coming.
To be continued….
Coming soon-The conclusion to my Heroes never die series:
Heroes Never die – part 8- LIVE
Sending you all love and light,