There was a compassionate friends meeting recently where the planned topic of conversation was missed milestones and how to deal with them. One of the things I’ve discovered about myself is I seem to do OK with the milestones. Milestones are like exits on the interstate, they come with warning signs.
I know Kev’s friends and classmates will be graduating from college next spring. When they start getting married and having children I’ll get ample warning time to prepare myself. I’ll think and process and write and emote beforehand and make it through the days as required.
There’s another type of memory that gets triggered when you’re not ready, like taking a bend in a country road and suddenly seeing the turn almost on top of you. These are memories of precious moments from everyday life that pop up and stick with you for a day or two.
Last night Lisa and I went to the first meeting of the DHS Soccer Boosters for this year. It triggered a sweet memory that just won’t leave me alone. The first big fundraiser for the year is the car wash, which will take place this Saturday. Suddenly I was reliving last year’s car wash.
It was a perfect day, warm and sunny. I was helping out pretty much all day, so Drew was too, even though the freshman were only required to stay for the first hour. Lisa was there and Kata was holding up a sign. Kev showed up for his wash with a big smile as usual. One of last year’s captains, Nick S, had played with Kev as a freshman and jumped into his car as he was waiting in line and chatted with him as he was going through. All of Drew’s friends, who all know Kev were joking with him. Lisa was giving him grief about something or other and Karen C was telling her to be nice to Kev because he was a good boy. He came back a while later with his girlfriend Shauna’s car and it was more of the same.
That was Kev, coming in with a smile and a joke and leaving warm feelings in his wake. That’s why we all love him.
It doesn’t sound like much, but it’s very powerful to me now.
Double sessions start for Drew today (good luck boys) and I can’t help thinking about last year. Kev went to pick Drew up after one of the practices and the JV coach, who had worked with Kevin asked what he was doing here. Kev said Drew was his little brother and shot the breeze with the coach for a while. For the rest of doubles Ross called Drew variably McCarthy, McCarthy-Larsen and McLarsen.
The first time I had one of these memory-visions was last November. We have friends in Gloucester (Danvers biggest rival) and they invited us up to see their daughter play in a youth football game at Gloucester High. I stood there in the sun and looked like I was watching the little kids but in truth I was seeing a very different picture. It was night-time and the lights were on. It was pouring rain, and the players on the field were older and playing a different sport. It was Kev’s senior year, late in the season. They were playing Gloucester in a game that would go a long way in deciding the NEC Champ. A couple of Kev’s club teammates were playing for Gloucester. It was a typical game up there, the field is narrow and the play was physical. I wouldn’t swear to it, but I think the game ended in a 2-2 tie. It’s not the score I recall, it’s the image, working hard in awful conditions on a field that doesn’t allow the Falcons to play their game. I figure the folks at the youth football game thought the tears in my eyed were from the wind.
As we approach the anniversary of his death there are more and more of these memories popping up. It’s like I’m remembering all the precious little moments that lead up to the tragedy. I’m kind of in a cocoon of pleasant thoughts not really paying attention to the warning signs of what’s ahead.
The hell with it, I’m going to feel good about these memories as they come. I know what’s coming soon, the signs are counting down the miles, but for the next couple of weeks I want to remember last year. I want to remember the innocence and the love and the warmth. I know what’s coming; it’ll get here when it gets here.