nine years ago today

Nine years ago today, you vanished from our lives. It happened in a blink (that was your preference for how it would happen, but I doubt the timing was when you wanted). It felt like an eternity.

I miss you, Daddy. Terribly!

I still love you “a bushel and a peck“.

As I did my best last week to console a benefactor of @dropalovebomb, I was reminded, all over again, of how hard losing you has been. All these years later, I still think about you every day. I still wonder how different my life would be if you were here. I still yearn for how many more lives you would have touched with your talents and love.

You were, in the long run, everyone’s favorite. I’m heartbroken that you didn’t know that.

…only the good die young.
– Billy Joel, and others, I’m sure.

Memories From That Horrid Day

[E & I were on our way to our then-annual Alternative Spring Break trip with students. We routinely volunteered our time for the week doing trail reconstruction on the Continental Divide Trail in the Gila National Forest. We did hard labor all day, enjoyed dinner/evenings by the fire, slept in 22-degree sleet, and loved every minute of it. Our overnight stop on the journey up was in El Paso.]

  • At 2-3pm
    • my strange off-topic recollection of a nightmare from a ~year before depicting your death (which must have happened within minutes of you slipping away) and one student’s confused face upon my sharing; I’m sorry if I freaked her out. [On the day after the nightmare, I owe thanks to your secretary, who put me through to Mom, who made sure I could talk to you and hear your voice on that day. Mom understood the irrational fear in my voice and my simple need to hear your’s.]
    • the blowout in the other van and the immediate walkie-talkie update to that fact
    • E and some students from our van helping them change the tire on the 15-passenger van [these models were later removed from the University System’s fleet of vehicles after several fatal accidents in the state.]
    • the wind; oh you hated the wind…and so do I!
    • E walking back to our van with a speed double that of the other students, literally
  • At 5-6pm
    • mine/E’s phones ringing in some kind of sick tandem while his sister, L, called again and again to try to get through to us in the mountains of El Paso before we set up camp for the night. You see, the blowout was a blessing. It put our trip behind schedule by ~30 minutes. That was just enough time to keep us from being next to a Mariachi band when the calls came
    • overhearing E’s end of the conversation with his sister and assuming a version of “the worst” for their family
    • hearing E ask for clarification (and, later I learned, disbelief), “who was this, again?
    • after E, hugging one of our student leaders, next, and sobbing into her shoulder
    • recognizing that our students were hungry and that, while we couldn’t make the promised Mexican feast, we had to get them to some food
    • the love and care from some students/colleagues who are also dear friends (Thanks, again, Beth, Leanne, Angela. I can never repay that kind of support, but I will try)
  • At I-don’t-even-know-but-it-went-from-light-to-dusk-to-dark-to-#We’veBeenHereTooLong pm
    • the absurdity of Student Activities/Affairs at Texas A&M University–including Kevin P. Jackson [1] and Monica Latham–to enforce ridiculous Risk Management policies that were not in accordance with University standards or policies–in the wake of a genuine emergency…and…
    • spending hours in a McDonald’s (where we could get good cell phone reception) with all our students (who had been expecting a ~nice Mexican dinner) trying to figure out how to get everyone where they needed to be.
      To quote one University official who returned our calls on a Saturday night, “I don’t care what Student Activities’ policies are! Those are not our rules. Get your asses in the van, and come home.” [He said this to the student leader, Beth, and then made her give me the phone so he could tell me what he told her. Beth, do you remember his name? I wish I did!]
    • being the person who found my own “suitable” (again, in the eyes of Kevin P. Jackson and Monica Latham [2]) replacement to escort our students back home. Really? I had to dig through my phone and call my own personal friends to find someone “suitable”? Someone on your staff? So you didn’t try–in any way at all–to help solve the problem? GTH. I called Angela knowing she had other Spring Break plans, but with the hope she’d know someone “qualified” (again) and available to escort. Turns out, she wasn’t leaving for one more day and could do it all herself.
    • being sick, on top of it all and spending a large part of my night curled up in the bathtub of our hotel room that our students so generously purchased [3]

    [1] “affairs” and “Kevin P. Jackson” in the same sentence. Irony, much? #bastard At least he finally got the boot he so richly deserved. While I wouldn’t wish him on any human entity, I do wish he’d been stuck with options at places like Podunk U. somewhere near the 75th parallel south.
    [2] #bitch No two ways about it. She had her “day” too, when her whole staff asked Kevin for her resignation. wow.
    Friendly reminder: It’s not slander or libel if it’s true!
    [3] I’m certain I never properly thanked them for this gesture. I was shell-shocked and then the semester was over. To those who read this, still, or find it, now, thank you. It was more comfort than I realized at the time. I was numb…and knew I would be for a while; I could have slept on a train track. Yet, when my infection set in, it was exactly what I needed.

    [4] Credit to Casey Brown, who I’m sure doesn’t even know about our blog
    [5] Another story. Another day.

Finally, Daddy, here is one of the last known pictures of you….showing Mom’s parents something about the new house….the one you closed on, but never even slept in.

LS, in memoriam

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