A year ago today I went through the five stages of dying all in one evening….
No, I personally wasn’t dying, though a part of me did. And yes, my old blog died that day too, but that had the least significance of October 12, 2004.
It began around 5:50 PM as I was walking up the stairs inside the social work building at UTA. My phone rang and since I still had ten minutes before class would begin, I figured, why not answer it, especially when I saw it was my buddy Becca. So I answered it and she had a serious tone to her voice and said she just wanted to let me know that she had just talked to someone who had been at up at ACU and that there was an ambulance at the administration building and that apparently Dr. Charles Trevathan had had another heart attack and that they were taking him to the hospital and that was all she knew at the time. So, being the optimistic person that I am, I was like, oh okay, thanks for calling to let me know. I went ahead and went on to class under the impression that this was just going to be another incident as in March when he had had a heart attack—some hospitalization time and then back to teaching in a week. So at about 6:10 sitting in class and my phone began to vibrate again, I noticed it was Laura, who I forgot to mention earlier was already with Becca, so I knew she wasn’t calling to tell me the news about the heart attack, as she knew I already knew. So I silenced the vibration figuring she would leave me a voicemail and I could check it at the break. No, no voicemail, just two more repeated calls back. As I quickly silenced the vibrations I knew the news she had wasn’t what she was going to leave on a voicemail.
I excused myself from class and walked down the hallway a little and called Laura back. She then broke the news to me of Charles’ passing. It was funny though, I was just like, “oh okay” on the phone. Didn’t really say much, didn’t really have any expression, just was like, “okay.” Laura could tell I was acting weird as I was really quiet…just kept saying “okay” to everything she said, “I’m really sorry, Kim,” “I know how much he meant to you,” and then “are you okay?” I just said, “yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Thanks for letting me know.” DENIAL. I think I ended the conversation with something like, “well I should probably get back to class now.” I’m not sure, but I am sure that I didn’t go back to class following that phone call, and I am sure that that wasn’t the last time I was on the phone that evening…
I went to my car. I didn’t know where else to go. I got in my car in the middle of the parking lot, still daylight and just sat there for a couple minutes. I needed to talk to someone. I wasn’t exactly sure who, but I needed to talk. However, I knew I might not be able to keep my composer, so I honestly can remember thinking, “who can I call so if I do start to cry I won’t feel ALL that embarrassed?” I called Misty…(I love ya, dear! You know I do!)
That call was really short lived. I couldn’t really talk (why the heck I felt like I could call someone at that point and talk I’m not sure), so I quickly came up with an excuse to get off the phone. Said some crap to the extent that I was just calling to see if she could keep me filling in on any funeral arrangements that were taking place. HA! Who the heck starts pursuing funeral arrangements and wanting to know times and places only minutes after hearing about the passing of a friend?!?! And as if I wasn’t going to be able to find them out myself. Like I really needed to call Misty to just ask if she could find out about the arrangements and let me know. HA!
From then until about 7:30 PM when I went back to my classroom to sneak in during break and get my belongings so I could leave I ended up talking on the phone to four others, besides the three I’d already talked to. That was all in a period of 1.5 hours! Not to mention the fact that only two of those people had I called: Misty and Holly. Then, the drive home was filled with phone calls as well. Before the night was through I had spoke to 11 different people on the phone (only 3 did I call): Becca Osborn, Laura Singleton, Holly Herr, Misty Willcox, Janaye Batiste, Hollie Inwood, Val Jolly, Cheryl Leland, Jennifer Ellison, Jayme Smith, and Jeremy Smith.
But I got home to find no one at home, EXACTLY as I wanted it for my arrival. I went straight to my room and just broke down. I ain’t going to lie…I can remember distinctly, I fell down on my knees at the foot of my bed and just cried like a I was a baby. I didn’t cry, I take that back…I sobbed, friends. I mean I know lately I’ve had people say, “gosh, you really cry for anything nowadays,” but when I say I cried over Oprah or about the hurricane stuff, I just mean tears ran down my cheeks. Unless you saw the tears, you would have had no idea I was “crying,” but on October 12th last year, I sobbed. You could have put a baby monitor in my room and listened to me cry folks. ANGER.
So a while later the “fam” showed up home and I had no plans of revealing the events of my evening, but my aunt had come in my room for some reason or another, I honestly don’t remember why, but she had asked me something and I mumbled out something and for some reason or another I told her about how my friend had passed away and I think I got a little choked up while I was saying it, so she did the whole come give me a hug thingy and then was like, I’m sorry, and that stuff, and I think she knew I just wanted to be left alone, so she went back to the kitchen. It was only moments later that she reappeared in my room, didn’t say a word, just walked over to my desk and sat a cold Smirnoff Twisted Apple on my desk and then walked out without saying a word. Yes, that is obviously one of my favorite drinks of choice, and yes, it was mine that was leftover from I don’t know when in the fridge, but I was in no mood to drink. That’s the difference between my drinking side and some people’s drinking sides. If I drink it is in small portions and never for the purpose of getting drunk, or even with the intent of getting some sort of pleasure out of drinking it or using it as a form of “treatment.” From the gesture in its self, it was obvious that my aunt had given me the beverage with the intent that I could use it to make myself feel better, I suppose. In a sense it was like it was expected to take away my troubles from the day. BARGAINING.
I can tell you I didn’t open that bottle all night. Nor did I open it ever if I remember correctly. I think I ended up giving it to my aunt and uncle at some point, not real sure WHO ever ended up consuming that bottle, but I can tell you this, I remember I didn’t have another sip of alcohol for quite some time after Charles’ passing. I had no desire. In a sense I had given it up, for him almost. Yes, I’ve had some since then now, but I can honestly say I went months before I had another drink.
So the rest of the night, I fell into a depressed state. DEPRESSION. I ended up with a severe migraine by the night’s end, which I will admit to giving into alcohol for that one: Nyquil. I went to bed a little after midnight.
It was at 2:45 AM that I found myself awake again, however this time free from the migraine and I honestly remember feeling so refreshed. It was like it was honestly time to get up, so I did…HA! I went to my computer and whipped out what would become my tribute and farewell address to my mentor and friend, Charles, which would end up being published in the ACU school paper. I felt good writing it and getting it out. I can remember going (back) to bed feeling a sense of closer and feeling at peace almost, having had written and expressed what I did in that article. ACCEPTANCE.
So yes, I went through the five stages of dying all in that night: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. But I honestly wasn’t aware of it until I thought about it just last night. And while all that took place in that one night, I can tell you one thing, the thing that sticks with me the most about that night isn’t the crying I did, isn’t the Nyquil I took, or even the article I was so proud of writing. It was the friends I had through it all.
As if the 11 phone calls weren’t enough, I also spoke online with 13 different folks that night as well. It’s amazing how caring and thoughtful folks can be!
So, in honor of a dear friend who I lost a year ago today, I want to honor those friends who were there for me when I needed them the most! Thanks y’all and blessings on you! Maybe some day, I’ll be able to be there for you just as you were for me!
Brandi Jo Magee