Monday, July 16, 2012

Childhood Memories and a Tribute to Darin

Me (in pool), Darin, Diane, Cheryl
I grew up in a very small subdivision in Goochland County. Seriously, there may be 20 houses there.  I can’t count them all in my head at this point….what a week!

I was born in 1970, and truly had five neighbors I was very close to….Jewel, Cherie, Darin, his sister Cheryl, and Karen.  They were my heart, my playmates, my friends, and my peers.  I couldn’t ask for better people to have in my life to support me as I took on all the trials and tribulations in this thing called life.  They attended a private school, while I attended public schools, but that didn’t change the family bond that was formed amongst us.  We still had the same snow days, and we still had….for the most part, the same summers.

Cheryl was and still is the big sister I looked up to.  She babysat me from the day I was born until she graduated and began life on her own with a job and an apartment.  Cherie and Jewel are just messes and still are. When I say “mess” I mean in a fun way. They are both super moms and are very supportive of their families. They both used to babysit me and had to deal with my “not going to bed” shenanigans because I wanted to stay up on Saturday night to watch Fantasy Island with them. Lordy, the trouble….They were my buddies.  I so vividly recall, because my parents were the youngest couple in the neighborhood, packing us ALL into one car and going to Ridge Cinemas to the movies.

Cherie taught me about boys, hair curling techniques, the Charlie Daniels Band, and so many other things I can’t even sum up in a blog posting.  She was my bike teacher. I learned to “truck” the neighborhood without the training wheels.  I hung out in her bedroom and picked out the clothes she would eventually hand down to me. 

Jewel….I heart you.  You were always the cuddler, took time to read to me, and taught me how to latch-hook with the greatest of ease….I still latch-hook today.  I remember sitting on the floor with you and your mom one day looking at pictures from all of our childhood excursions.  You used to hold my hand as we walked up to play Putt-Putt and kept me safe.  To you and Cherie, I say thank you.

Our friend Karen tragically lost her life in a freak accident when I was a freshman in high school.  I was so devastated I missed school the day after her funeral just to look through all the pictures my mom had to grieve in my own way.  It was awful to finally face the reality of death, and when it’s a young person taken away all but too soon, and needlessly, it literally tears your heart apart.  I still miss seeing her little white Chevette going down my parents’ road whenever I visit.

This week hit home again with tragedy as Darin lost his life in a car accident instigated by a medical condition.  I remember sitting last week at the computer and checking the Facebook news postings, and saw the accident article.  It was so close to my parents’ home, and I had filled up on gas there frequently that I knew “something wasn’t just quite right.”  I called mom and dad, for the truck looked just like my father’s and I was worried. There were at home and safe.

My cellphone rang again at 12:30 that afternoon….mom calling to inform me that Darin had been the one taken in that awful accident.  (You can read about it here). I felt horror and guilt for worrying about my own family, and not even thinking about someone else that I loved and cared for.  I cried briefly, but the full throttle crying would come later.

Darin, Me, Cherie
I so fondly have memories of riding bikes with Darin.  He taught me how to skateboard.  The neighborhood kids would build forts during a snowstorm and have horrendous snowball fights.  The boy had an “arm.”  We would visit every Christmas morning and exchange gifts we had gotten for each other.  My parents gave me an Atari one Christmas with Asteroids and Space Invaders.  Darin spent all day over at our house playing those games with me. My parents have a pool….it was built when I was in fifth grade.  I can so clearly remember Darin and I sitting in my parents’ backyard watching the bulldozer dig the dirt and lay the foundation.  We spent lunches together in the summer and would go to Oak Hill County Club to hang out at the pool.  One of my favorite memories consisted of a golf cart and riding around the neighborhood.  You would have thought we had our driver’s licenses and were running around in a Cadillac.  Darin also had a go-cart he would race on his road. I thought he was the coolest.

We grew up, and grew apart.  He was two years older than I am, so as he aged, and grew up, he probably thought of me more as a nuisance than anything else.  He made me so mad at a birthday party that I threw Sprite on him. I never apologized for that…and now I feel guilty.  He actually painted my dad’s shop last year, and I was able to talk to him briefly. I had Matthew with me and he took to him almost immediately.  I do intensely remember Matthew giving him a high five before we left to head home. 

The funeral was Thursday, visitation was the day before.  I took Matthew after the funeral to the pool….it was just my way of dealing with the shock of it all.  I just can’t fathom the horror of burying your own child.  I love my son, and to Darin, I loved you as well.  You were the brother I never had and I thank you for touching my life.  I know you are somewhere watching me type this and telling me to “get over it.” I heard after the storms last night there was a rainbow over your mom and dad’s house, so I am all but too sure you were trying to tell us something…and we are grateful. 

I went for a run Thursday evening after your funeral, and couldn’t really quite fathom what a beautiful July day God had granted you to say your final goodbye to us.  I cried at your funeral….you brought so much joy to my life (and sometimes pain…you had your mean moments), but the fondness of your friendship will remain forever in my heart. Thank you for being my friend…..I will see you again one day when we are all in God’s arms.

No comments: