Friday, October 09, 2009

Gone but not forgotten

I took my book with me today, in hopes that on the ride there it would distract me enough to stay calm. And it did, it worked for the most part. But I had to leave it in the car. I couldn’t take it with me, and I wish I could have. Because what awaited me, was too horrible by far, and the nice vampire world was a comfort I needed.

Inside that small funeral home were two coffins, one for my good friend Toney, and one small one for his son Elijah. They were white with gold fixtures, and that’s as much detail as I got from them. They showed a video of photos of both of them, with songs playing. One of my favorites was a photo of Toney giving the camera the bird, everyone laughed because that was so Toney. The second one, and the last photo on the video, was of both of them together. Elijah looked so much like Toney. I was fine until the preacher started his speech. He told how old they both were, to the day. Then he began telling stories of them.

My heart was in my throat from the moment I walked into that building. And when he began talking about how great with kids Toney was, and how full of life Elijah was, it was like my heart was trying to burst out of me. I had to swallow my screams, my tears because I knew if I let it out it would be so loud and so pitiful everyone would turn to me. I almost left, because I didn’t think I could handle it. I thought I made it in the door, and now I can’t do this. I cannot listen to this man tell me how great of a father Toney was, how wonderful he was with his friends, because I knew it. I couldn’t listen to him tell the story of how Toney would pick up his cousin from school, and how her friends thought she was being picked up by some older guy. He played the part of the boyfriend by asking loudly if she was ready to go to the movies or dinner, because he knew what that would do for her. He was a jokester, he was a loving person, he was a friend, a helper, a good person, who had it rough, who made some bad choices, who died way way too early. I couldn’t listen to the man talk about Elijah, and how he did everything to the fullest. He threw himself into everything as much as his little self could. Life was one huge adventure for him, and he was on the edge of his seat to experience it. He was not afraid of anything or anyone and showed it by putting up his fist and threatening to punch someone. I didn’t need to hear it, I knew it. I knew it because Toney told me, because I witnessed it, because I knew him and loved him. And now their gone and this man, this man is trying to tell us who he was and what he was. He’s gone. GONE. I had to sit down because those thoughts were ripping me apart inside.

When they opened the caskets, I hid behind the people in front of me. Luckily we were late and were in the entry room behind the chapel, with many people packed in front of us. It wasn’t too hard for my 5’3 self to hide. I could hear the gut wrenching sobs from the family and friends inside the chapel, and the silent sobs of those in the room with me. What I felt wasn’t quiet, it was closer to the gut wrenching, screaming, fit throwing, cry that people do in their darkest most painful moment. Little squeaks escaped me a few times and I knew I had to keep it together. I had to. If his wife, his mother, and all those close to him could do this, so could I. For that brave little boy and that big kind man in those caskets, I could do it. And I did. I stayed when all I wanted to do was run out of that building and scream until I couldn’t breathe anymore. I stayed and it was horrible.

He was a huge fan of OU Sooners, and many family and friends wore OU items for him. Shirts were worn by his brothers and some relatives, OU jerseys with In Loving Memory of Toney and Elijah on the back. Many of these shirts were draped over Toney’s coffin, to be buried with him. One such relative, a friend of ours as well, said that Toney was the only person who could get him to wear OU anything. That’s love my friends.

I don’t think anyone walked away today without a piece of them staying behind at that cemetery.

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