ten years of a broken heart

I have six tattoos. Of all of them, I love Tony’s the best. On the fourth anniversary of Tony’s death, I had Erindre Alltid placed on my wrists. When people ask me what they mean, I say, “‘Remember always’ in Norwegian.” Then people ask, “What are you remembering?”

What am I remembering…

…When I was 14 I wanted to order new shoes. I found these really funky, cool Saucony’s online and I had to pick a color. Tony came downstairs from the kitchen and said, “You should do yellow. Yellow is awesome.” Then he handed me a cd. It was my birthday and he bought me Live at Red Rocks by Dave Matthews Band. I popped it into the computer, ordered my new shoes and listened to DMB with my best friend.

I still have those shoes and wear them still, today.

On clear nights we’d go up to this place in Clarion that we named the “Top of the World.” It was just some old guy’s field, but it was on a big hill and from it, you could see all over. And when it was dark and cold, the stars were exceptionally bright out. Tony and I would drive up there often, just the two of us, in his old Mercedes. It didn’t matter if it was only 20 degrees out, we’d have the sunroof open so I could see the stars. When we’d get there, we’d put the heat on full blast, grab a few pillows and lay on the roof with our feet dangling inside. We’d talk for hours…and I can’t even remember what we’d talk about, but we always had something to say.

We had planned our future together as friends. We both decided we wanted to move to Seattle and he made me promise that if I didn’t find someone to marry me by the time I was 23, I had to marry him. And even if I didn’t marry him, we promised to be friends forever.

Tony had a lot of friends. So many. He deserved them all. He was a kind spirited, fun loving, genuine guy. He never asked for anything, but gave so much in return.

I loved him so much.

Ten years ago today he died. I don’t really know what more I can say about that. He was late for work, there was a pickup truck involved and it was early in the morning. His car didn’t have airbags. He hit his head pretty hard, since that’s what killed him. At least that’s what I was told. I was in California when it happened.

The morning Tony died, I had a dream that he came to me. It was black all around and it was just me and him. He held both my hands and looked directly into my eyes. He said, “I love you, Cassie, but I have to go now….I have to go.” And I said, “Where are you going? Are you coming back?” And he looked at me with his big brown eyes and paused for what felt like forever and said, “I love you.” When I woke up, the clock read 3:07 AM. He died a little after 6 AM eastern time. Like I said, I was in California.

…that last paragraph was hard to write…

I remember the day of his funeral…that night I went back to my then boyfriend’s house and his brother said I looked nice. For some reason, that’s when I finally, really snapped. I just stood there and started to cry. Now, understand, I had been crying plenty. Enough that I had gone through four pairs of contacts in four days. But something was different. I looked nice and had just come back from a funeral. I remember asking Carly if I could borrow a dress to wear. I wanted to wear something Tony would have liked. At his viewing a few days prior, when I first saw him after waiting in line…it was like a bad dream. And here I was two days later being told I looked nice.

I’m not making any sense.

The thing about Tony’s death was that it was hit hard by most everyone in the community. Our school morned. Parents wept. Kids felt lost. The summer was stale.

Tony’s death changed who I was. And I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who can say the same thing. Tony’s presence was warm, inviting, welcoming. He had such a beautiful spirit. Such a beautiful spirit. And when he died, a part of me died, too.

The tattoo signifies remembering always. Not just Tony, not just Tony’s death, but what happened after he died. When Tony died, I snapped. I couldn’t handle life anymore. I made poor decisions and also started cutting. When I got those tattoos, I got them to remind myself to never, ever let myself get that low again. Tony wouldn’t have wanted me to be that way.

But a death like that…so young…so fragile…how was I supposed to react?

Ten years later, my heart still aches. I honestly thought that as the years would go past, perhaps the pain would subside. But it really hasn’t. I’m still sitting here with tears rolling down my cheeks and a dull ache in my heart. There wasn’t anyone else like Tony. Not a one.

When Tony died…when he died I…I forgot every memory I ever had with him. Every last one. I forgot about every time we laughed, argued, wrestled, sang…I forgot if he was ever really, truly my friend. I forgot if he ever said he loved me. I forgot what he sounded like, what he looked like, what he sang like. I forgot about how he had the softest hair of anyone I’ve ever met. I forgot how he loved Blessid Union of Souls. I forgot about how his car CD player would hide itself by flipping over when you’d turn the car off. I forgot how he always would beg my Mom to let him date me. I forgot that I still owed him a New Year’s kiss. I forgot how I’d cheer for him the loudest when he’d get to play during basketball season.

Tony, I remember everything now. Everything. You were my best friend. You did mean everything to me. Sure, you weren’t the best basketball player ever, but I was your #1 fan. I remember the exact moment I saw you for the last time. Clearly. I remember your hug. I remember your voice. I remember your songs. I remember everything. I promise. Everything.

Ten years and it isn’t getting much easier, but at least I know I’m not alone. Like I said, he was well loved.

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

Knowing that one day…
I will see you

-Blessid Union of Souls (one of Tony’s favorites…and yes, I see the irony.)



Erindre Alltid. Forever.

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About Cassie

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

Posted on June 22, 2010, in Cassie. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Sweetie, I’m so sorry you’ve had to go through all that. I know that kind of hurt never goes away. I’m glad you’re in a place where you can enjoy the memories again. And look how far you’ve come. Your friend would be very proud of how you’ve come out the other side.

    And seriously, that dream thing is amazing. In a way, you got to say goodbye. I envy you in that respect… I wish I had something like that happen to me when I lost my buddy 9.5 yrs ago. The Ghost Whisperer hasn’t got shit on you, even if it was just a one-shot deal.

    Thank you for sharing this difficult story. Long may you hold his memory dear.

    • Cassie or Carly

      Yes, the dream was a little crazy. Plus, I didn’t write this, but when I was in the airport on my way home (It was a horrible debacle, and basically I had to quick fly home from CA to PA and I had a layover in Chicago) and it was really cold in the terminal, so my hands were cold. I had my hand on the arm rest waiting for to board and all of a sudden my hand got tingly and warm. I swear it was him.

  2. This was so touching and sweet. What an amazing friend you were and still are to one another. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  3. Cassie, what a beautiful tribute to your friend. I feel like I know him a little bit now because of you.

    May you remember always.

  4. Cassie or Carly

    I’m proud of you for writing such a thoughtful piece on Tony. I still miss him, and no amount of time will ever change that.

    Love you babe!

  5. Wow. Despite how faded they may seem to you, those are some vivid pictures you paint after 10 years. There’s obviously a huge part of Tony–of who he was in your life–that will always be with you, untarnished despite the passage of time.

  6. He sounds like a rare gem, and the kind of friend we’d all like to have. I’m sorry.

  7. This comment:
    Yes, the dream was a little crazy. Plus, I didn’t write this, but when I was in the airport on my way home (It was a horrible debacle, and basically I had to quick fly home from CA to PA and I had a layover in Chicago) and it was really cold in the terminal, so my hands were cold. I had my hand on the arm rest waiting for to board and all of a sudden my hand got tingly and warm. I swear it was him.

    I had a similar debacle flying to my dad’s hospital room and I was also in Chicago. I was flipping out and sitting in a terminal when I felt the weight of two hands on my shoulders. All my stress just oozed out and I felt so calm. I called the hospital and it happened at the moment my dad slipped into a coma. I know it was him, saying goodbye, taking care of his little girl one last time.

    I get you, Cassie.

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