Finally, a day I have nothing planned, except for a family dinner tonight. Which isn’t even the whole family: Courtney is in Florida and Sarah’s at a wine tasting. I’m hungover, again, when I wake up at the hotel. I drive back with Doug, Heather, Michele, and Kelly. Doug drops the three of us off to Michele’s car and I say bye to Doug. I’ll see you at your wedding (in a year). He doesn’t want to say goodbye. “I’m gonna cry.” It’s OK, you’ll see Mike in a month.
After food, a nap, and a shower, I’m feeling good. Venture up to the attic to see what I can bring back with me. I brought a suitcase home with barely anything in it so I could fill it up with goods. My God, I have so much stuff up here. Gather up some clothes, shoes, books, and the scrapbook the girls made for me last Girls’ Weekend. I’m definitely taking my Harry Potter lamp, too.
Throughout the day I can’t stop thinking about the Kelly’s next door. Yesterday morning when Kelly and Michele picked me up for the wedding, they told me as soon as I got in the car. Dave Kelly died yesterday. What??! I’m shocked. And incredibly sad. He was only 25, and the younger brother of Cherie and John, who I have previously mentioned. Their driveway and front yard has been littered with cars since it happened Thursday. I can’t stop looking over. I can feel them next door.
I’ve never really been good with death, or rather, good with handling when people I know have someone close to them die. Probably because I’ve (thankfully) never had anyone really close to me die. Aunt Jody is the only person, and I only saw her a couple times a year, if that, so it doesn’t really compare to losing a parent or a sibling or a best friend. I’ve never known that feeling to lose someone, so I feel…useless, or like I can’t relate, and that person who lost someone doesn’t really want to hear that “I’m sorry for your loss,” because, what do I know about it? And everyone else is telling them that, anyway.
I know now that this is stupid. When Colette’s mom died, I was away at college and couldn’t come home. Which is fine, but I didn’t even say anything to her. We had always been friends growing up but hadn’t really talked in a while. I got that awkward and uncomfortable feeling that I get and never said anything to her. It wasn’t until this past November that we talked about it. I was embarrassed as I apologized to her. Of course, Colette wasn’t mad or anything, but she did talk to me about the funeral, and how all these people came and many of them were people she didn’t know. But it made her feel so good to know that so many people cared about her mom. She made it sound so simple. Because it is. Letting someone know you care feels good, no matter how strong your friendship is.
The old me would not go over to the Kelly’s today. I’d make up some excuse like, I’m sure they don’t want to be bothered, and it’s probably just close friends and family. The new me has to go over there. Besides, Jenn (who is close with Cherie), told me last night that the services are Tuesday. I leave tomorrow. I’m actually home when this is happening so I have to see them. Jenn and I text back and forth and agree to go together. She can’t make it over until 6, which is when we’re supposed to have dinner. I ask Dad to hold off on cooking. In the meantime, I go to the florist. I thought about bringing food, but Dad told me I shouldn’t bother. “Food is the one thing you don’t have to worry about. They probably have more food than they can eat.” The florist closest to us closed already, so I drive a little further to the one on Grove Road, the same one I just went to with Lauren Stever for her wedding flowers. Weird. I was just here for a celebration, and now I’m walking in because of a death. I stare for a while at the flowers. Is there a certain type of flower you’re supposed to get for this? I finally pick an arrangement that is just pretty. The leaves are shaking as I hold it. I’m shaking. I’m nervous about going over there.
I sit in the backyard with Mom and Chris. Stephen shows up. “Hello Lindsay.” Hello brother. He’s always very excited to see me. Jenn and her sister show up and I meet them out front. We make the short walk to the Kelly’s. Mr. Kelly lets us in, and as always, since high school, looks at me like he doesn’t know me. It’s kind of like how Dad looks at every single one of my friends when they walk in the door. I see John and nervously give him a hug. I hand him the flowers. “These are for me?” Yes, and I have no idea what else to do. Cherie is in tears already when she hugs me after Jenn and Kristen. I just squeeze her tight, not knowing what to say. Pretty sure I say sorry and wish I didn’t say anything. Mrs. Kelly is talking a mile a minute in the kitchen about how there’s so much food and she doesn’t want it to go bad, offering us all sandwiches. We politely say no, and follow Cherie further into the house and… oh crap, Mrs. Kelly is back here. I haven’t seen her in so long I thought her sister was her. Jenn later tells me not to worry about it – everyone mistakes Rose for Mrs. Kelly.
The four of us move outside to the back deck and sit and talk for a while – sometimes about Dave, and sometimes just catching up with each other. John has moved outside, too. He’s very quiet and I don’t know if I should say something to him. I feel like I should. Or even just sit next to him, but I don’t know if that’s weird and if he just wants to be alone. I get nervous thinking about it and decide to do nothing.
Cherie is open and honest about everything she’s feeling. She doesn’t really get too upset the rest of the time we’re there; but she does kind of stare off sometimes and I can tell she’s not really with us. And she’s still funny. I forget what I say to her and she very matter-of-factly says back, “Oh, yea…that’s because you’re a Virgo.” This girl, she really is unlike anyone I know. She mentions my blog and tells me she kept thinking of things she wanted to write about in her response. Then she starts cracking up about something she wanted to write: it takes her a while to finally spit it out. “Remember when you would always be cleaning?” Well, yea, only when I was drunk. “And I remember one time, Sarah got mad at you because there were no dishes in the sink and the dishwasher was empty, and you left dishes in there, and when she yelled at you, you were like, ‘they’re soaking!'” It’s really not as funny in writing, but you can’t not laugh at Cherie’s delivery. I’m glad to see her laugh, even if for a moment.
I’m less nervous as we say our goodbyes. I give John another hug and this time realize he smells exactly the same way he did in high school. I feel 16 and small. Fred (Cherie’s fiance) is standing next to John and I say bye to him. We don’t really know each other that well, so I know we both don’t want to hug, but I just hugged John and we’re awkwardly standing there so I just go for it.
Outside, I feel myself exhale loudly. We walk back towards my house, and I’m thankful that Jenn and Kristen were there with me. I walk in the door at 7:30 to my family who’s been waiting on me for dinner. No one says anything, though, they just ask how it went and how Cherie is. She seems to be handling it as best as she can. I don’t really know what else to say. Dinner is nice with the five of us and at this moment I feel very fortunate. LMonny and Kelly come over after dinner. We make teams and play a trivia game called Bezzerwizzer – Laur decides to watch because she’s not staying too long. Mom progressively gets drunker and keeps leaning over to Lauren. “Wait until you have your own (kids).” Laur doesn’t miss a beat. “I hope my kids want to have dinner and hang out with me.” Mom can’t argue with that.
We have the back door open. It’s getting windy and rainy and I’m hearing noises – I keep picturing Cherie or John walking into our backyard to hang out, just to get out of the house without really going out. I know that’s ridiculous, but I think it. Mom and Dad have gone to bed and Lauren left, so there’s only four of us left playing the game. Steve and Chris against me and Kelly. It’s down to the end. Kelly and I need to get the answer right to stay in the game. Stephen, jerk as always, reads the card to himself then huff and puffs and says how ridiculously easy the question is. He does this practically every time so that even if you get the question right, you would have been an idiot if you got it wrong. After he looks at it, he dramatically hands the card to Christine. “You read it. I can’t.” Apparently, Christine thinks it’s a joke, too. “What is the only even prime number?” Kelly and I look at each other and immediately I know, we both don’t know the answer.