Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sometimes, You Just Have to Let It Out...

This is the hardest thing I've ever had to write. But I need to get it out, so with tissues in hand, here I go.

Driving. Always driving :-)
On Saturday, August 25, the world became a darker place. My stepdad, Gary, was killed in a motorcycle accident. I was up cleaning the house, getting ready to go to the gym, when my phone rang at 8:52 a.m. Everyone knows you just don't call me before 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning, and when I heard my mom's voice, I knew something terrible had happened. I'm not going to go into the details, but I was at my mom's house within a half hour and we hugged and we cried and we started calling people. The worst part was when my mom had to call and tell my sisters because they live so far away and could do nothing but scream, cry and be in shock.

When everyone made it home the next day, it was hard, but we had each other to lean on. We started making plans for his memorial service because we knew he wouldn't have wanted a funeral where everyone was all sad and weepy and serious. Gary was an amazing artist and graphic designer and had tons of friends who are also ultra creative, so we had help pouring in from all over the city. He loved movies and music, so we held the service at a movie theater. There was an amazing video made with pictures of him and clips from his favorite movies and songs. We spoke and honored his memory, and even though he would not have wanted us to cry for him, every single person in that packed, standing room only theater did.

All of the people who spoke talked about his kindness, his love for Jack Daniels, camping, driving and inappropriate jokes, his acceptance of everyone and his ability to make you feel like the most important person in the room. I had so many people tell me how proud he was of his girls, and how even though weddings were not his thing, how excited he was for mine. I had come to a decision a few days before he died about who I was going to have walk me down the aisle and who was going to have the father-daughter dance (because both Gary and my father have been hugely important in my life), but now the point is moot.

In the midst of all the sadness and heartache, I was able to have a few hours of happiness because my entire bridal party (plus a few extra VIPs) was in town, so we were able to go wedding dress shopping and I'm pretty sure I found "The One." I've been able to spend more time with my family all together since before I left for college. I've reconnected with some people I had lost touch with years ago. I've realized how much I miss my sisters and how proud I am of them, even though I don't tell them nearly enough. I've fallen even more in love with Danny, after watching him just step in and take care of things when I was a big snotty puddle. I realized how much people rely on me to be the rock, and that I'm stronger than I ever thought I was.

So Gary, I have you to thank for all of these things. But I wish, more than anything, that I could call you up and hear you say "Hey Poot-head! What's up?" I'm so sad that I won't get to go see the newly remastered Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark at the theater with you next week. I regret more than anything not having gone on that last family road trip to Vermont because I had to work. And nothing breaks my heart more than you not being here to walk me down the aisle.

I can't hate you for leaving us, because you brought too much good into my life and the lives of countless others and you honestly died doing what you love. But goddammit, this is the hardest fucking thing I've ever had to deal with, and I don't know when (or if) it'll stop hurting so much. Until then, I guess I just have to feel what I'm feeling and trust that I, that we all, will be okay. 

Here's to you Gary. You lived life on your own terms and everyone who knew you was better because of it. I love you always. Shots of Jack Daniels all around!

The first of many cross country drives to move someone to or from California.