Friday, February 25, 2011

Sad Endings

I haven't been writing much. Sorry that a batch of sad news prompts me to join you today, but sadness has long been the best writing prompt I have.

My uncle Darrell, whom I wrote about here, lost his battle with brain cancer early this month. He was the first family member to show up at my parents' house the day my dad died. When I was a little guy, I thought Darrell was some kind of superhero. Dylan bonded to him as a baby more than any other extended family member, and I wasn't surprised. He chose not to have a funeral. That doesn't surprise me either. Our family will get their chance to remember him together, though: my uncle Sid--older brother to Darrell--and my aunt Bettye will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this summer.
We have a Mexican food place here in Redding called Burrito Bandito. Rhonda and I visited it right after they opened several years ago, and we liked it immediately. But, we lamented that it probably wouldn't make it because of its less than ideal location. But, not only have they "made it," they've succeeded due to great service and fresh, tasty food.
I got to be friends with a guy named Al who worked there. Since lunch hours were always crowded, I would go in before or after the work crowd. Al was a warm, engaging guy, the kind of guy who asked, "How you doing?" not as a mere salutation, but because he really wanted to know how you were doing.
I hadn't visited Burrito Bandito in a few months when I stopped by there last month. As I was waiting in line, I saw a photo of Al on the wall. On the top of the photo were the words, "We fondly remember."
Al fell from some height, hit his head, went into a coma in the hospital, and died several days later.
I've known Sherri since the sixth grade. I met her son Jeff and her daughter Jennifer when they were little. Jennifer was an adorable little girl, and Jeff was a bright, engaging little guy with an infectious smile.
This week, Jeff jumped to his death from the Cold Spring bridge, in the backcountry of Santa Barbara County. I've only communicated a couple of times with Sherri since Jeff's death. She's shipwrecked, of course. As for me, I'm having a lot of trouble reconciling my memories of that happy little kid with the young adult who became so overcome with darkness that he ended his own life.
Still, when I look at Jeff's Facebook page, it's clear that Jeff was a light in the lives of many, despite harboring his inner demons. It's also clear that Jeff will be remembered much more for the light he shared with others than the darkness that ultimately claimed him.

Right now, I'm pissed off at life. I should offer something better than that, but I won't. I'll get over it, and I'll be back.


Uncle E said...

Oh man, Hal. Our whole family here is thinking about you, Rhonda and Dylan. Spend a lot of time with your family and cherish every moment. Much love from the Balentines.

Kelly said...

I'm truly sorry for all your losses, Hal. It sounds overwhelming.

Prayers for all.

Bob said...

So sorry about all this, Hal. Your perspective on Jeff is good. We never truly know what's going on with people. It's tragic that he apparently saw this as his only option but you are wise to remember the good things about him.

So good to hear from you, even under these circumstances. Best to you, Rhonda and Dylan.

Algernon said...

Thinking of you, very sorry for your loss and for the suffering of these good people.

quid said...

I am so sorry for your losses, Hal. Too much, too many. My heart goes out to their families.


Pam said...

It saddens me to find you in emeshed in this dark space you find yourself. Life sucks at times and this, it seems, is one of those times.

Losses are never easy or fair. They cut you off at the knees and, at times, the hits keep coming.

Hang in there and hold Rhonda and Dylan close as you navigate these bleak times.

You're in my thoughts.

Annie said...

Hal, I am so sorry for your losses. It seems they pile up, one on another, until the weight is unimaginable. Writing about them helps, doesn't it? Sounds like you have wonderful memories of these people. Thinking of you, Ronda, and Dylan.

Scotty said...

So sorry to hear of so much sad news, Hal - if a man-hug from across the pond helps, you've got it.

Debby said...

You've been run over by a herd of loss. I don't know why it happens like that, but sometimes it just seems as if the unfortunate events sort of 'glom' together. Sorry for your dark time.

Roland said...

Sorry for your loss, Hal. Thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family.