Endless Blue Skies

This post was inspired by the The Red Dress Club memoir writing prompt. Technically I have to write one based upon the prompt they gave. Stay tuned.

You don’t expect bad news to come on a day with endless blue skies and convertibles filled with beautiful women. The kind of news that I got that day should have accompanied by thunder and lightning. One should feel as if war is raging on the mountaintops.

There should be an epic battle raging between Zeus and Hades. It should feel like the end of days is at hand…Armageddon.

But the day that we heard about ‘D’ wasn’t like that. It wasn’t even close. It was exactly as I first described…beautiful. It was a picture perfect day.

I should have been outside. I should have been roller blading or hanging out at the beach. I should have been staring at hard bodies in bikinis or washing my car. Any and all of those things would have been appropriate and far better than what I was doing.

You are not supposed to make the calls that I made that day. Not at 29. Friends don’t die of terminal illness…not at 29. You don’t spend the summer watching your friend waste away. At 29 you don’t watch the disintegration of a beautiful mind…except I did.

‘D’ was one my closest friends and in many ways more like a brother. He was a guardian of secrets and a trusted companion. He was a pilot and a scientist. He was a son and a brother. He was deeply in love with his girlfriend and making plans for a future that he would never have.

Now he is a memory that many of us share.

It was around 7 AM or so when my telephone rang. I answered it on the second ring knowing that it was bad news. The voice on the other line belonged to his little brother and though it didn’t break I could hear the anguish hiding behind his words.

There was no sugar coating it. No description of him passing away nor attempt to explain it and I didn’t offer one either. It seemed hollow, fake and inauthentic for me to tell him that his brother was taken or that G-d had some special purpose for him.

He asked me to make some calls and I said yes.  Thirteen years later I still remember the feeling of horror and dread that morning. I felt like the Angel of Death.

It was unreal. I’ll never forget how Heather screamed ‘no’ in the phone and began sobbing. Thirteen years later the echo of her screams lives in my memory. Thirteen years later I remember how an hour before the funeral we gathered in my condo and drank a toast to ‘D.’

We stood there in my living room silently trying to make sense of the senseless. I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and tried to center myself. I pictured a moment in time. ‘D’ and I were in his plane flying over Los Angeles.

We’re 23 and talking about girls and life. I look out the windshield at endless blue skies and he asks me if I remember double dating in Santa Barbara. I say of course and he asks if I remember someone walking in on my girlfriend and I. I nod my head and tell him that whomever that was killed the moment. He starts laughing and he tells me that he knows that wasn’t true.

He explains that girls talk and tells me that Debbie talked to Karen about that time. A big smirk crosses my face and I tell ‘D’ that I hoped he learned something. He says “screw you” and we keep flying into the blue.

I am covered in sweat now. We’re at ‘D’s funeral and we’re burying him. We who loved him are taking care of this because we can’t stand to let some stranger do it.

The sound of dirt falling on his coffin is intermingled with loud sobs that come from all around me. Sweat drips into my eyes blurring my vision and I stop shoveling. I look up and make eye contact with ‘D’s mother.

Tears stream down her face and I look up in time to see a small plane fly overhead….

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