My Uncle Gary (Buddy's father) and his family lived in
Buddy was a great guy. He was married with 4 young children, and was a loving father and husband. Buddy was my cousin, but he was also my friend. He was 7 years younger than me so I remember when he was a baby. However, most of my memories of Buddy are from the time we spent together as adults with our families in
I could write all day about Buddy. Buddy was loyal, and loving, and he had a way with each of his kids. He was quiet, but had a very distinct sense of humor, and it popped up when you least expected it. He could be a real smart alec, but he was never rude or inconsiderate. He always made me laugh. My husband Al and Buddy got along especially well. They could sit together for hours and watch
I think one thing that clicked so well with Al and Buddy was their idea of having a good time. Fun always included their families. A good time was not a night out at the bar with the guys; it was hanging out playing Wii, or going out to dinner (as a very large group). We spent most of our time together in restaurants, basements, living rooms, and dining rooms, at tables, or on couches, while kids ran around and played on trampolines, or computers, or tortured the
Many things went through my life, my head, and my heart when Buddy was killed. First, was sheer pain. It physically hurt when my mom told me he had been killed. Unfortunately I was also at work, so it was hard to even get through the rest of the day. I was in tears throughout the day, and could barely function. My very understanding manager was amazing, but I still don't know how I got through those 9 hours.
After the shock, I prepared for the trip to
Seeing Heather, my cousins Melissa, and Cassie, and finally my Aunt Rosemary was so very difficult. What can you say or do that will ever erase or even relieve the suffering that has been brought upon them? When someone dies, no one has a monopoly on sorrow. Our whole family was in pain. Each member feelt the loss in a very different way, and there was now a hole so unique that no one could ever fill it. That was the testament to the man Buddy was: special, unique, and irreplaceable.
Buddy's death was also a testament to both the good and bad in humanity. Something that started out with someone doing something irresponsible and incomprehensible turned into something very loving and beautiful. A lot has happened in 2 months. Buddy's company Kiewit, and Heather's friends and neighbors, have rallied together to support her and the kids through this terrible time. There have been fundraisers and volunteers who have done amazing things. Events nothing short of miracles have occurred, and a community has come together in a way which may change everyone in it. For me, Buddy has been on my mind every day.
I don't mean to minimize or bypass Heather or Uncle Gary and Aunt Rosemary's stories in all of this. I only feel that their stories are just that; theirs. They belong to them and should be told by them. This is mine, and this is my way of expressing what Buddy meant to me. This is my way of saying how much I'll miss that "Roll Tide" text this month, or how much I missed having dinner with him this summer when he should have been in
I think of Buddy's wife and children a lot. I think of Heather learning how to be a single mother. I think of Rachel acting as a role model for her brother and sisters. I think of Kimbo trying to keep everything in order. I think of Natalie and her free spirit, and I think of Garrison who lost his compass. I mourn for them and their heavy loss. I mourn for my Aunt Rosemary who is heartbroken beyond repair, and I mourn for Uncle Gary who is devastated. However, Uncle Gary remains the epicenter for everyone in his family. He is a true patriarch, and is a fine example which I believe Buddy was emulating.
Through it all, I wake up every morning and go to bed every night with the certainty of 2 things. First, I miss my cousin, and I wish that we had had more time to spend together. Since I can't change that, I am trying to cherish each and every moment I have with my own family. You never know how much time you have with anyone, so I don't want to waste it. Second, there is no certainty in life, and bad things happen when you least expect it. I have lived my whole life in fear, but it has never done me any good. For all of the things that I try to protect against, the least expected always seems to pop up out of nowhere and slap me in the face.
Because I have so much fear, I have a lot of self imposed restrictions. The day Buddy died, I decided to try and live my life the way he did; responsibly, but not fearfully. He loved life, and he did things he never should have been able to do (like jogging). He traveled a lot for work, and I remember talking to him one day about how afraid I was of flying and he told me that if it was our time to go, we had no control over it. I loved that about him. He wasn't simple minded (he was very smart) but unlike most intelligent people, he looked at life with a simplicity and clarity that most of us take a lifetime to achieve. Maybe that is why he went home so early. Maybe he had life figured out. I just wish he'd have been around longer to educate the rest of us.
I miss you Buddy!