goodbye

Sunday, June 18th marked the 10th anniversary.

I still remember the phone call. I’d just gotten home from a grueling day at the factory, putting toys in cereal boxes. I was tired, dirty and smelled like Cheerios.

There had been several phone messages waiting for me from his uncle.
I called back and heard the unforgettable news from a quivering voice on the other end: “Your college roommate, Stephen Brown was killed by a drunk driver in a car accident.”

My best friend was dead. Stolen.

Stephen was driving home from a church picnic with his little sister in the passenger seat and three friends in the back seat. They came upon a four-way stop, waited to cross, and proceeded forward.

A drunk driver behind the wheel of a pickup truck T-boned them from the left side. His death was instantaneous.

A moment later, Stephen’s sister, the sole survivor, woke up with him slumped over in her lap.

I remember the funeral… it was so surreal. It looked like a cheap facsimile of him in the box; a stranger.

I carried him out of the church into the hearse and our processional floated to the grave site. We buried him with his favorite hats… one of them I had given him. I was just going through the motions. Nothing was real. I didn’t feel anything.

It wasn’t real until I got back to campus that fall. My first day back, I walked around the college, went to all our favorite spots, played pool and walked by the lake… alone.

I went back to my room and wept, looking forward to when I’d see him again.

I’ve thought about him nearly every single day since that night… perhaps afraid that if I don’t pay him my daily homage I’ll be dishonoring his memory somehow.

He and I used to joke around all the time about what we’d do if the other one died:

“If you die, can I have your CD’s and your stereo?”

…and after you’ve lost your roommate, jokes like that just aren’t funny anymore… and it’s not true that if your roommate dies, you get a 4.0.

The only thing I got was a bunch of memories and landmarks that reminded me of him daily.

Over the years, it’s gotten easier. I can barely remember his face.

The last shadow I can remember is the sound of his laughter.

3 thoughts on “goodbye”

  1. hey Paul,
    Powerful entry, it makes you think about the importance of the way you live your life.
    It’s amazing how God can take comfortable routine and circumstances and flip them upside down. Thanks for the challenge in the midst of your pain. We miss you guys! God bless

  2. Wow Paul! I just found this site and have been reading a few of your entries.I’m just in awe of your “ramblings.” Miss seeing you guys.

  3. I never knew you still thought of him daily. He was a very special friend. We never really forget people. They were part of our becoming. It reminds us to cross other’s paths kindly and meaningfully.

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