he was my friend

These last two days of work really wore on me. I had been avoiding talking to people and just sort of had been going through the motions. I didn’t know what it was that had me so upset the most until now.

Friday at work we had an unexpected death and when Shannon and I were preparing her for the morgue, I just felt so sad for her. For her family, for her body, for her life. A whole life of 70 some years coming to an end with nurses and doctors pumping on her chest and intubating and trying every medication possible to bring her back. Then to have us put her in a bag and tying her name on her toe for the morgue. And that’s it. That’s closure?

Saturday at work another one of Shannon’s patients died. This time it was a hospice patient, planned, but sad all the same. Again, there we were washing her body and preparing her for the morgue. This time it was Shannon’s turn to write the last name on the bag.

I came home and felt so drained. There wasn’t anything left. I had nothing left to give. Now, I know this is going to sound harsh, but with being a nurse, you sort of get used to death. The smell of the body bag is almost a sad reminder of what is to come to us all. I always try to tell myself that I’m glad I could be the one to prepare the body because I know I will conduct myself with the most respect and compassion possible. (Not that the other nurse’s don’t, I’m only speaking for myself.)

During the night last night I had a dream about Tony.

I never mentioned Tony here before, have I? On my wrists I have tattooed: Erindre on my right and Alltid on my left. It translates to “Remember Always” in Norwegian. Here’s the reason why:

Short version:

When people ask my what my wrists mean, I tell them it was for a good friend of mine who died.

Longer version:

His name was Tony. He was my friend.

My Mom had a rule: No dating anyone greater than two years ahead of me. Tony would try to finesse my Mom to get her to bend, but no. Which was OK, I guess because I didn’t really have a romantic interest in him at the time. I met Tony when I was in 7th grade. He was friends with Carly and her friends. He was so different than Carly’s other friends. He actually enjoyed spending time with me. He took me seriously and would hang out with just me. Tony was patient and kind and compassionate. He was well loved throughout the community and was involved with all kinds of high school activities – musicals, choir, basketball…

I was Tony’s biggest fan when he played basketball. I was a varsity basketball cheerleader and my boyfriend at the time, Todd, was one of the better players. Tony, well, he rode the pine pony a lot. When they’d put him in, I’d cheer so damn loud I think it made Todd  jealous. But he knew better. It was Tony. That’s all I’d have to say. It was Tony.

He drove this old Mercedes 420 series and it was as big as a boat. We used to go to the 7 Eleven down the street and buy Lightening Snapple, go to “the top of the world” and lay on his roof with our feet hanging though the sunroof listening to Blessid Union of Souls. We would look at the stars and talk about life. He even gave me my own star.

…………………………….

He was late for work. He worked for his dad’s company that builds modular homes. I’m not sure exactly what he did, but he was on the business end of it all. He had just graduated from high school and was going to Penn State for business. It was 2000. He was going to fast around the bend and he hit a pick up truck. He was wearing a seat belt, but his car didn’t have air bags. The woman who found him said that he had died by the time she got there, so he didn’t suffer. A single hit to his head and chest was his demise.

I was in California visiting my aunt when this all happened. He had sent me an e-mail a few days before telling me we could move out to Seattle or somewhere out west. That it could be an awesome adventure. He was always making plans for ‘our’ future.

…The morning Tony died, I had a dream that he came to me and said he was sorry and he loved me and goodbye. When I woke up from the nightmare it was 3:20 AM California time. He died around 6:15 AM Pennsylvania time. My Mom had called at 7 AM. I was still sleeping,  my aunt walked into my room to wake me up and she had been crying. I immediately thought that Bungee the cat had died. When she told me the news…to this day, it still takes my breath away.

The rest of the day was a blur. I remember flying out of John Wayne airport and having an hour layover at O’hare airport and bawling in the terminal. I was only 15 and so very, very alone. I got to Pittsburgh sometime after 1 am with my Mom, step-dad, Carly and Todd waiting for me. I laid in the back of the van in silence the whole drive home, crying on Todd’s lap. I slept in Carly’s bed and Todd slept on the floor next to me, holding my hand. Surrounded by people, but still so alone.

I have this reoccurring dream that I was there when he crashed. That I witnessed it and got to him and tried to save him. But he still died. Because of me. Because I couldn’t do anything about it. I’ve had this nightmare for almost 10 years now.

I had it again last night. I guess death will do that to a girl. Reminds me of the nightmare that was the summer of 2000.

So looking back to the poor lady on Friday…I wasn’t there when Tony died. I don’t know if they tried to resuscitate him. I keep thinking in my head that he was tortured like that lady was on Friday. He was dead on impact, from what I understand. But did they still torture his body? And when he was wrapped in the body bag, were they gentle and kind? Did they take time to honor his body and treat him with respect?

*sigh* I don’t really know what else to say.

One of Tony’s favorite songs was “Standing at the Edge of the Earth” and it’s eerie how the song can pertain to his death.

I knew that this moment would come in time
That I’d have to let go and watch you fly
I know you’re coming back so why am I dying inside
Are you searching for words that you can’t find
Trying to hide your emotions but eyes don’t lie
Guess there’s no easy way to say goodbye
So I’ll be standing at the edge of the earth
Hoping that someday you’ll come back again
I’ll be standing at the edge of the earth hoping for someday
Don’t misunderstand what I’m trying to say
I don’t want to let you leave this way
I want you to know that I stand right by your side
And I know this may be
The very last time that we see each other cry
But whatever happens know that I’ll….
I’ll be standing at the edge of the earth
Hoping that one day you’ll come back again
I’ll be standing at the edge of the earth hoping that someday
You’ll come back to me
I’ll be praying for whatever it’s worth
Believing that one day you’ll come back to me
I’ll be standing at the edge of the earth
Hoping for someday
And I know this may be
The very last time that we see each other cry
But whatever happens know that I’ll….
I’ll be standing at the edge of the earth
Hoping that one day you’ll come back again
I’ll be standing at the edge of the earth hoping that someday
You’ll come back to me
I’ll be praying for whatever it’s worth
Believing that one day you’ll come back to me
I’ll be standing at the edge of the earth
Hoping for someday
Waiting for someday Believing in someday
Praying for someday, I’ll be….
Longing for someday Clinging to someday
Cherishing someday, I’ll be….
Thinking of someday Dreaming of someday
Wishing for someday, I’ll be….
Living for someday Counting on someday
Knowing that one day….
I will see you

(This is what sits on my fridge. A note from Tony wishing me a happy birthday that was placed in my locker, and a picture of us on his last day as a Senior.)

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About Cassie

Two sisters from two misters. What could be more fun?

Posted on January 17, 2010, in Cassie. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m so sorry Cassie.

    The hurt never does go away, does it?

    But he was able to tell you goodbye, wasn’t he? In the dream…

    It’s amazing how those things can happen.

  2. Cassie, this is just so sad. I’m sorry you had to face mortality at such a young age.

    Still, what an incredibly moving tribute to your friend.

  3. Wow. Hard for me to respond because one of my best friends in high school was killed in a car accident right after we graduated. Even 30 years later, the grief can crop up as fresh as it was at the time. Then it just sort of fades into the background again. In my mind, he’s locked into this 19-year-old person, while I’ve moved on. I often get angry at the waste, the meaninglessness of it, the haphazardness of him being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    • Cassie or Carly

      See, I totally agree with that. It was the wrong place at the wrong time. Plus he wasn’t driving safely enough. It kills me. What if he left a few minutes later or earlier…I can’t stand thinking all those things. More importantly I can’t stand being stuck in my thoughts.

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