Tuesday, March 29, 2011

This January I Grew Up A Little

It is five O'clock in the morning, my head is pounding, there are so many things going on in my mind this morning.  I need to send out resumes... I need to clean the house... I need to find a place for everything in this huge old house with no obvious storage...

In the back of my thoughts it is still there... It is always there... Like the migraine from hell, there in the back of my brain softly pounding, yet the aftershock is so deafening.

January 5, 2011

It was Wednesday morning and our deadline to get the paperwork finished for the house was Thursday morning.  Nothing was finished.  I had been racing around all morning from place to place, from Ben's work to the lenders office.  My cell phone had become a permanent fixture, attached to my ear.

I was talking to Jason on one line, John was holding on the other and I was late to meet Paul so he was meeting me in between him and me in the Burger King parking lot.  I clicked over to John from Jason and the line was beeping again.  I answered the line and immediately asked K.O. if I could call her RIGHT back, I swear... RIGHT BACK!! She softly and politely replied, "Okay, sweetie, but really RIGHT back... promise?"

I clicked back over with a little concern in the back of my mind. I hoped everything was okay but I really had to talk with John for a minute before I got to Paul with all of these papers to sign.

I hung up with John and immediately dialed Kari's number.  She answered after one ring. (She NEVER answers after one ring)  I asked if everything was okay and she did not answer my question; she just began talking and I began rambling in my own head... Alison and I were just talking on the phone... okay?  Whats wrong, K?...  Umm, Lori?.?... Hey, Kari, are you okay?...  I'm fine, Lori... whats wrong, baby?... You know, Chris Boyer... (was that just a question, Do I know Chris Boyer? okay here it comes. He is getting married he is marring Bonnie and they are going to live in a little house with a little white picket fence and raise four little children and live happily ever after... Chis Boyer, the first boy I think I really loved, for real. The boy who shattered my heart.  The boy who told me he loved me so very much but he just could not be the person he wanted to be when he was with me, the man that I deserved. The man that wanted two curly haired little girls with big blue eyes, the cute little house with the white picked fence and the art studio in the detached garage in the back of the house where he could watch me paint, or "play with my photographs" from his library window with all of his English and History books.  The boy who said I should keep the ring and take the heart locket that he searched for, for months to match the one I had lost that my Grandpa Jack gave me on that last Christmas. The boy I gave my heart to.)  YEAH, Kare, I know Chris Boyer. What is going on? Spit it out, hun...

The world froze for a moment when she spoke again.... "Lori, he... he... he... he died, Lori... He killed himself... He hung himself, Lori." I was speechless, thoughtless.  We talked for another minute or two and then we both had to go.

I had just kept driving and listening without any emotion at all and then suddenly, after we hung up, it hit me like a tsunami.  I stopped my truck in the middle of 140, put it in park and sobbed uncontrollably for what seemed like ten minutes.  A man rolled up next to me and after motioning to roll down my window asked if I was okay, if I needed a jump.  I replied that I was fine, it had just stalled.  What I did not say was that it was my heart that had stalled, not my car.

After meeting Paul, in my Jackie O sunglasses on a sunless day, Kari called back.  She had left work.  Alison had left her job as well.  They were both on their way home to pack.  I would pick Kari up from the train station at 11:30pm on Thursday night and we would get Alison from the airport the following afternoon.  There would be no funeral and no showing but we would throw a party because that is what Chris would have wanted. There would be A LOT of booze... Booze and food.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

As I drove to pick up Kari the thoughts filled my mind again and I realized that something had happened in the last thirty something hours. Our childhood had officially come to a close.  We were no longer teenagers or "young adults".  We were just plain adults.  Adults who got married. Who had kids. Who had grown-up jobs. Who's friends lost hope and took their own lives...The flashbacks started...

January, 2000 

We were standing in the rain.  I was screaming at the top of my lungs.  The most primal scream I had ever used.  The tears on my face mimicked the downpour from the sky.  Evie stood in front of the open car door.  Jarret was at the wheel and his girl was in the front seat.  Chris stood, not a foot away from me, as he stared at me with motionless eyes. "You broke me, Chris, YOU BROKE ME!!!" he just stood there. "ONE DAY YOU WILL REGRET THIS, YOU WILL WANT ME BACK AND I WON'T BE THERE!!! I won't wait, Chris... It will be too late."  In his annoyingly, always calm voice he answered and I saw tears in his beautiful eyes, "Your right, Lori Beth, I know that you are exactly correct." He walked away and got into the car as I fell to my knees in the pit (parking lot). Alison walked over, bent down and picked me up. "You're going to ruin that dress you are sewing, Lori, come back into the green room."

May, 1999 

It was raining so hard as we drove down Homer Adams Parkway.  We pulled into the Famous-Barr parking-lot because Chris could not see to drive.  It was not "the thing" to have cell phones yet so neither of us had one to call Alison, Kari, Erin, and Heather to tell them that I would be even later to the slumber party. Sitting in a car, with the radio blaring Sarah McLachlan, in the pouring rain at almost midnight with nothing to do... What would any teenage couple do?? He pulled me across both seats and out of the drivers side door as I screamed that the rain would ruin my hair. He assured me that my crazy curls were beautiful and that he nor my girlfriends cared if they were a wet mess. We both laughed so hard as he spun me around the parking lot. We were soaking wet but we didn't care we just kept dancing and singing to "Fumbling Towards Ecstasy" eventually falling to the ground laughing until our bellys hurt.

As I waited for Kari's train (I was really early; as if I were excited in some way. Maybe just ready to get one of the hardest weekends of our lives started and over-with quickly.) I did something I maybe should not have.  I logged onto Facebook from my Blackberry. I searched his name and his page appeared. There were notes. Notes from many of his friends, many of my friends, many of our friends. It hurt. It hurt so very badly. I instinctively wrote...



Lori Beth McPherson I have no beautiful words, you know I never did. All I have is that I love you and will never forget what you were to me.January 6 at 11:33pm · · · See Friendship

I was sobbing when the Amtrak pulled in.  I jumped from the truck as Kari reached the window.  We hugged so tightly as I sobbed, "I did something bad, I did something I shouldn't have. I looked at his Facebook." She assured me that it was going to okay. We had all looked, and cried, and wrote...

We needed fries, and Cokes and it was nearly midnight.  We drove to three McDonald's drive-ups before one was open.  We ate fries, drank 40oz cokes and felt a little better.  We wondered out loud together were there any signs, could anyone have done anything, was there a note? What did it say? and we both burst into abrupt laughter when we agreed that the note most likely contained a lot of 10 letter words that neither of us had in our dialect or had the brain power to understand.

He was so very intelligent. He was definitely the smartest of our friends and possibly of most groups. he would have reasoned his way out of something like this.  He wouldn't have done this. He couldn't have done this... but he did.  He took his own life and we didn't know why.

The rest of the weekend went by quickly and slowly at the same time. Alison wanted El Mez Cal when we picked her up from the airport. It was comforting, familiar, part of our past lives. A reminder of our past selves.  The ones who drove to Brighton and Piasa at two in the morning to have truck pulls and corn field parties. Who ended up in Pocahontas trying to get to Edwardsville. Who didn't get mad when Brad Lucas crashed their all girl slumber parties, EVERY SINGLE TIME. 
Who laughed and admired his persistence when Chris Boyer asked one or another of us to go on just one date him... until one night, in that theatre that belonged to all of hearts, one of us broke down and said, "Sure, Chris, I will go to Prom with you, but not because I like you, I really just want to be one of the only Sophomores at Junior Prom." With that devilish smile he told me how he would show me.  How I would change my mind about him. How I would fall quickly and madly in love with him. I laughed...
Prom 1999
Prom May 1999
We got to Alex's house later that night and it was all so surreal. Very "The Big Chill" Alison and I sat on the kitchen counter with Kari in a chair below us as Alex and others laughed and listened as Ben (friend Ben, not husband Ben) told all of us his relationship woes. Many were there and many memories were shared with less sadness than we would have expected. We tried to reach old friends on the telephone to tell them the news and of the gathering that would take place the next night. Some were reached and some were not.

The next day was much of the same. Kari, Alison, Jenny and I shopped and then cooked together in Kari's parents kitchen. We made meat and cheese trays, brownies, and puppy chow that melted through a trash bag. We laughed and joked and talked about old times.

When we got to the Heintz house Erin and I joked about how weird and refreshing it was to see that all of us had grown up and learned to bring something to the party to eat instead of just knowing that there would magically be a party waiting for us. We sat around the porch table and everyone told of what they had been doing for the past 10 or something years. Lord, had it really been that long...
A pantsless toast! Andy, Ben, Adam, Mikey, Kevin, Alex, Ethan, James, and Brad




A smaller toast from Chris's two best friends Mikey in light blue stripes and Alex in purple
We will Miss You, Boyer! Stephen, Ethan, Alicia, Alex, and Amanda
A smiling, puffy red face photo of K.O. and me
I finally made my way downstairs into the crowd that had formed while we reminisced. As Mikey walked up to me with arms outstretched I had to hold my breath so I did not break into sobs. This was the hard part. This was the gut-wrenching part. The flashbacks started again.

Sometime before the summer of 1999

"Buongiorno Principessa!" they both cried as I walked by in the hallway.  I smiled as I punched Mikey in the shoulder and kissed Chris telling them they were both total ass holes with no sole. They just smiled and Mikey and I continued onto History class as Chris went on to his class. 

Somehow we all made it through the night but there were many, many tears. The boys choked them back and even made emergency runs to the bathroom returning with red faces and allergy excuses but we all knew that we were in the same shape, the same place, and it hurt.

On Monday we all returned to our respective, cities, states, jobs, lives and began what will be a long process, forgiving but never forgetting...

The flashbacks have never stopped for me. I still see him in the car, in the grocery store, while I am alone painting a room. I can feel him when I drive past Hand Dive.  When I see a white car that looks similar to his. When the flowers began to bloom last week it was bittersweet. I had flashbacks of the beautiful roses he brought me on a weekly, sometimes daily basis.

One night I dreamt of the night in my little silver mustang. We had been at a club dancing all night when his cell phone rang. It was Evie, grrrr.... Chris and I were friends now (or something like it) but it didn't mean that I had to like her...

He was strangely cold only answering, yes, no, yes, okay, alright, yes, okay, I understand... When he finished there were tears streaming down his face. He explained to me that his girlfriend of what had now been years just told him that she had gotten or was getting (he wasn't really clear on this) married this weekend. She had played him. She had never broken up with her high school boyfriend, from her hometown. He had broken my heart. He had fallen in love with a girl from his friends college, changed his college plans to go to school with her and it had all been a lie. I had to contain my laughter as I held him in my arms while he sobbed. I really did feel sorry for him, I didn't want him to hurt like that but at the same time it was such sweet karma. "It's too late, huh?" he joked and I smiled. It was indeed too late. I was not taken by anyone else but I certainly wasn't going to go through all that again. 

Several months later in a dorm room 

Chris had been at one of his role playing nights and I was not about to sit through one of those! I had stayed back in his apartment with his roommate and watched Jay and Silent Bob movies all night, until five in the morning, when Chris returned. We had just walked into his room when he suddenly grabbed me, pulled me close, and kissed me. It was still there. I went weak in the knees and my head screamed this is sooo not happening but my freaking heart did not agree. I so wanted to just let whatever was going to happen, happen but I couldn't. I pushed him back as he looked down at me. "It really is too late, isn't it? You warned me it would be?" I did... I did warn him. I smiled and he laughed and we went on with the strangely close friendship we had somehow come to have with one another. 

As the years went on we still had our friendship but somewhere life got in the way. We still saw each other at all of the friend get togethers and he would randomly call and invite me places. Ben and I even spent New Years Eve with Chris and his former girlfriend at their house the night before we left for our honeymoon. Though somehow we had began to loose touch over the years.
May 2001
Chris and I at my High School Graduation Party May 2001 (He was the last one to leave that night)
Me and Ben at Chris and Andrea's New Year 2009
Me and Andrea New Years 2009
I will never forget our last random phone conversation or the last time I saw him. I think I will always be half waiting for him to randomly call me to invite Ben and I to a Bar-B-Q and I am not sure it will ever really stop hurting but we all can hope right...

Chris turned 29 years old on January, 25 2011.  He was not with us to celebrate his birthday but we had a wine toast around the United States to celebrate his life.

We Miss you so much, Chris.
Ben, Chris, and Alex, 2010
Kari and Chris, 2010

1 comment:

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh my gosh Lori. Oh my gosh. I am so sorry for this loss. This huge and monumental loss. I have never had suicide directly impact me but when I hear of it my heart aches for all those that lose the individual. I hope he is in Heaven and I hope he is happy again. I will pray for you. This is a beautiful tribute post. Just beautiful.

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