On April 2nd 2005 after a hellish day at work I had finally settled into bed and fallen asleep quickly. Around 1am I awoke to the phone ringing but was too tired to get up and answer it. Less than 5 minutes later it rang again and I just knew something was wrong. I jumped out of bed and ran for the kitchen but missed the call. The answering machine picked up and I heard my dear friend A.J.'s voice telling me to call him as soon as possible. At this point I was panicking! A.J. was in the Navy and stationed in Norfolk, Virginia....it was 4am his time and now I truly knew that something was very wrong. I grabbed my cell and called him back. The first words out of his mouth were "Are you sitting down?". I demanded to know what was going on and he said "Get a cigarette and go outside.". I complied. After I'd lit my cigarette and sat down on my front steps I took a deep breath and asked what was wrong. "P.J. died last night."......those words felt like a thousand knives stabbing me in the heart......I couldn't breathe, I couldn't think but mostly I couldn't believe it. "You're lying!!!" was all I could manage to say. He promised me he was not and deep down I knew it was true but I couldn't wrap my mind around it. My heart wouldn't let me believe it. I hung up on him and called Melody (P.J.'s sister and one of my closest friends). When she picked up the phone there was no more doubt, no more hope.....the agonizing sound of pure grief in her voice was all the answer I needed.....P.J. was gone! I tried to get up and go wake Brian but my legs wouldn't work. I collapsed onto my deck and cried like I have never cried before. After what felt like hours I finally made it back to my bedroom and collapsed onto the bed which woke Brian. He took one look at me and went into full panic mode. He jumped up and ran around to my side of the bed begging to know what was wrong. I couldn't get the words out....All I could manage was broken sentences and screaming. He held me until I calmed down enough to say it somewhat coherently, "P.J. is dead.". For the first time in his life Brian was utterly speechless. He held me in silence for the rest of that sleepless night and I cried.
The next day felt like a dream. I spent the entire day in a zombie-like stupor. I remember going to work but I don't remember being there, if that makes any sense. After work I went straight to Mom and Dad's. If I had had any lingering doubts or hope that the night before had just been a bad dream walking through their front door was all it took for me to know that this was real and P.J. was gone.
We had the funeral 11 days after his passing. It was beautiful. We had t-shirts made with pictures of P.J. on them and wore them proudly. (We still wear them proudly.) After the service some of us went up to Foster to spread some ashes in one of his favorite spots. We still go up there from time to time. I go on my own sometimes just to feel close to him!
It's been 10 years and I still feel the pain of his loss as if it were yesterday. P.J. was (and still is) the closest thing I ever had to a big brother. I have lost many people since then......other friends, family members and both of my Grandpas....but those losses pale in comparison to losing P.J. I don't really know why losing him hurts so much more than any others and sometimes I feel guilty for it but P.J. was special. He was one of my best friends, my brother and my oldest sons Godfather. He meant everything to me!
As I write this my heart grieves his loss but I also remember all of the good times, all the fun we had together and it makes me smile through the tears. He was a bright light in my life and for that I will always be grateful. I love him just as much today as I did during our 10 years of friendship and I always will!
P.J. I love you with all of my heart and miss you more than words can express! You took a piece of my heart with you when you left this world and I look forward to the day when you can make it whole again in Heaven. You may be gone but you are NEVER forgotten. I love you always!