Wednesday, January 5, 2005

A Day Of Memorial


Hello all. Today is....well, loaded. It's crazy. It's sad. It's so many things and yet nothing all at once. Okay--I'll just get right to it. A year ago today a very good friend of mine, Mindy Campbell, died. It's all very sad. She was only sixteen. Had she lived, she would have been able to celebrate her 17th birthday just three months later.

When it happened, I went through all of the phases they say you'll go through. First it was uncontrolable...everything. It was weird. I don't know how to describe it. I felt a million things all at once. And all of the things that I felt were strong. Overpowering, even. Insane. It was exausting. I had to stop this before I was consumed by it. So I plunged into numb denial. I just shut down. For like three days.

It was weird becuase I found out right before school started that she had passed away. Someone was talking about a wreck that had happened the night before. But there was always a wreck the night before. Or a fight, or something horrible--this was St Louis. Then someone mentioined mentioned Mindy's name. That's when my heart went into overdrive. I marched right up to that kid in the hall and interrogated him like a mother in suspicion of a pregnant daughter. What this and why that and where and how and who. I didn't even know the kid. Then he said something that made me want to slap him. "Yeah blah blah blah car wreck on route MM....blah blah...last night....black ice...blah blah blah.....Mindy Campbell went through the windshield and hit the pavement---" Eeeerrrrrt!!! Whoa! Stop right there! So I interrupted him and began playing twenty questions--"Is she okay? Tell me exactly what happened. What hospital is she at? Is she in critical condition?" etc. I was ready to march right out those front doors and hike it to whatever hospital she was at. That's when the kid said the "I'm gonna slap you" thing: "Naw. I think she died." That's it. That's exactly how he said it. No tone. No emotion. Just like she was an unfortunate squirrel on Moss Hollow Road. I was going to kill him. Twice. Once for being so nonchelant and again for lying. I yelled at him saying, "Dude, shut up! That's not funny! You shouldn't joke about crap like that. I happen to be a friend of Mindy's, and I don't appreciate your sick humor." And with that, I stomped off to class.

I was pissed. Partly at myself for even talking to that moron and partly AT the moron--plus, I was now late for class. Someone in my class was talking about the wreck, too. So I was guessing that the wreck really happened, but I wasn't sure if the part about Mindy's involvement that moron boy mentioned was true. I mean, he could be just a kid with some stupid beef with Mindy, right? And then I heard her name. I scramble over rows of desks and kids still eating breakfast to play Miss Interrogator again. This time, I knew that Mindy had been invloved in the wreck because the girl who was talking was also a very good friend of Mindy's (I was only barely acquainted with this girl). None of us were sure how bad it was until there was an announcement made. The principal broke the horrible news to us with surprizing gentleness and sensitivity. At first, no one said anything. Then it was pandemonium. Girls crying EVERYWHERE. The coulceling office upstairs was full of weeping friends and loved ones all day. I even spent about a half hour up there.

So, like I was saying--I went into crazy, horrible numbness. Denial to the extreme. I didn't do anything. I was a vegetable. I honestly couldn't tell you anything else that happened that week, aside from the viewing or wake or whatever you want to call it. That was the eight of January. That was the day I came out of denial.

I decided to go to the viewing. I didn't want to. I don't cope well with death. Especially the death of close friends or family. I just can't do it. Not like a normal human being, at least. So anyway, I went. Walking up to the building was...okay. Then I went inside. There were TONS of people there--hundreds. I was okay until I got to the chapel door. As soon as I stepped inside that door and began the seemingly million year walk up to her casket, I felt it. It was so strange. I felt like I was moving in slow motion. But I wasn't. Even my hearing was weird. I felt like I was under water. Everything was warped, but my own footsteps echoed. Or at least that's how I was hearing things. The people talking, others crying - everything - sounded like it was traveling through water to get to me. They were all sitting on the deck, and I was struggling under water. I took in everything though. All of the people there. The flowers. The smell. The air. The temperature. I don't know how to describe it.

So I finally made it to the front of the room. I could see where the casket was, but I couldn't see her because of the people surrounding her. Then someong looked back, and then they all looked back and saw me. They were kids from school. They knew that Mindy and I were good friends, so they all parted so I could.....what? So I could look at Mindy's lifeless body? Or perhaps out of reverence and respect for the friendship we had? I didn't know. It seemed morbid to me. Creepy. "Let's move so Ashley can come see one of her best friends dead in a box." I know--I'm making it worse. But that's how I felt...at first.

The second wave of emotion (which came not a split second later) is indescribable. I can't do it. I don't know how to put it into words. I just...lost it. I caught only a glimpse of her before I clapped my hands over my eyes, turned, and collapsed. And I stayed there, crumpled on the floor, for about five minutes with a swarm of schoolmates surrounding me. They were the kids who did the parting of the red sea impression just moments before. They were all around me trying to hug me-comfort me-telling me that it was all right. That everything would be okay. That's what everyone said to me all week and the next week. But it wasn't. How could it be okay? One of my best friends - someone I had been talking to, laughing with just a few days ago was now lying motionless in a box. Gone from the earth forever, and I could do a thing about it! I just had to....deal with it. Everything was NOT okay, and it wasn't going to BE okay, either.

I hated every moment of the wake. I hated hearing people cry. I hated even more hearing people talk about how it was all going to be okay. But the worst thing, by far, was seeing her.....like that. I looked at her and refused to believe that it was her. I was crying uncontrollably. Losing it. Completely. It was pitiful, I bet. I didn't want to come to terms with it. With the fact that Mindy was gone. Just gone. The sadness that I felt was overwhelming.

For the next week or so, it was a mixture of both sadness and anger. The disbelief was gone. The numbness--gone. I was just....sad. And the anger kicked in whenever I heard that "It's okay--everything will be alright" bullcrap. I didn't want to hear that. I didn't want to hear anything. What did I want to do? I wanted to cut myself off from all human contact until I was ready to deal with the "cruel world" again. The harsh, straightforward, brutal world that just kept moving on despite such tragedy. How did people deal with things like this?, I wondered. What am I supposed to feel? and do? I wished someone would tell me. But then again, I just wanted to be left alone.

Wow, that was depressing. Okay--so now I've moved on. Mindy would want me to dwell on her death. She would want me to be happy. And I am. I'm fine. She is in a better place, serving God right now. She's happy, and I'm happy that she's happy.

Anyway, the whole reason I wrote this was in hopes that those of you who come accross it might find some time to have a moment of silence for the loss of a wonderful daughter of God and a good friend. Keep in mind that, somehow, we are all connected. Thanks a ton and sorry this entry is so long.

Ashley - The Keeper of The Flame

Gone

You were here
And now you're gone.
Your memory still lingers
In the places where we talked.
I saw you tonight.
You lay in a silvery casket
Laden with flowers
And tokens of love.
Tears were shed
And hugs exchanged.
I was afraid.
I couldn't look
At you,
My friend,
Lying in a satin-lined box.
Once living, laughing,
Talking, smiling--
Now dead.
Motionless.
Gone.
A painful sigh escaped my lips
And I exhaled,
Releasing the pain,
But clinging to your memory.

Ashley Tramel
9:33 PM  January 8, 2004

*Imported from my first blog on mindsay.com*

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