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It's Been 9 Long Years...

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Just Because...
Just Because...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

It's Been 9 Long Years...

It's been 9 long years today since I lost Nick.

... 9 long years since I got off the phone with a friend hearing "Lys, I don't how to tell you. Nick's gone!"

... 9 long years since I had even gotten an inkling that Nicky was hurt - not even realizing that he was so badly hurt his body was traumatized.

...9 long years since Mark walked into the kitchen and, after telling him what had happened, Mark coldly proclaimed "I'm not going to his funeral."

...9 long years since I sat on the back steps of my apartment in Chicopee, talking to BR and realizing right then that I lost a part of myself.

...9 long years since I had to be the strong one and tell Nick's friends all while trying to maintain a strong face while they reeled in shock.

...9 long years where I realized I had to swallow my pride and admit I was wrong.

...9 long years from when I started to get an inkling that life is too short.

It's been 9 long years and every November 6th it still seems fresh.

It was 9 years ago today that I learned that Nick, the one guy who GOT me, died.

Some background:

I met Nick through my ex, Mark. Nick was tight with Mark, Mark's best friend, Tommy and this guy Bill. (Don't ask me to draw a graph, please). Just think of the four musketeers and there ya go. Pretty much, Nick was the ringleader. By day, Nick was an MP in the Marine Corps and, over the years he and I developed a deep friendship where I considered him to be one of my closest friends, even closer than Mark. Nick was sarcastic, witty, a prankster, would often dare me to do the impossible, and knew me like no other. During my on again/off again relationship with Mark, Nick's friendship was unwavering, unlike mine. Sadly, he and I fought 6 months before he passed and those six months I refused to talk to him. I wouldn't take his calls. I refused to go to the same events, etc. that he might be in town for. 6 months of time lost over something so stupid that I, as an adult, should have recognized as another of Mark's bold faced lies. Our last conversation was SO hateful that even now I think back and wince.

To this day, Nick is my one true regret. I regret not telling him how I loved him. I regret not being a better friend. I regret choosing Mark over him. I regret going back to Mark after yet ANOTHER fight, knowing that someone who was amazing was right there. When I needed Nick, he was ALWAYS there for me. However, when Nick needed me, I was not there for him. I just did as Mark told me. However, I can't beat myself up over that - Nick knew. Nick understood what I was going through. He didn't judge me for it - he was pissed, naturally, but he didn't condemn me for not leaving the abusive S.O.B.

During our 6 months of animosity, I got wind that Nick was discharged from the Marines and went to go work as a supervisor for a private contractor disassembling Navy boats. I had finally made my mind up that I would stop being such a stubborn **tch and that I would agree to go to the same Halloween party and we could finally talk. That wasn't meant to be.
On October 30, 1998, he was working on a ship in Pittsburgh and his crew couldn't get something to work correctly with the generator so Nick stepped in and, from what Tommy told me, a ball of flame engulfed Nick leaving him with 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 70% of his body. He held on for 6 days and only Tommy was notified as he was pretty bad off. I was told that Nick didn't want to upset us and have us see him that way and it was my understanding that there was hope he would recover. Sadly, on November 6, 1998, his body couldn't hold on any longer and he died.

At the moment I got the news, I got my first burst of strength. After Mark's statement about not going to the funeral, I knew then that Mark and I were slowly on our decent away from each other. (Note: We split for good a year and a half later - it took time but I never looked back and to this day am grateful I never married Mark). That November 6th weekend, while they were transporting Nicky back to W. Mass, I went, as previously planned, to the Poconos and the Divas were there to save my sanity. While Mark was being a jerk (again), I was able to hang with my girls and just get some clarity. The whole drive down to PA and the ride back, I was silent and I remember hearing Cynthia's song, "IF I HAD THE CHANCE" repeatedly on the radio. That song, to this day, is one that reminds me immediately of Nick. My reasoning for going was that I had to get out of the house and get away from anything that reminded me of Nicky. I half expected him to be sitting on my couch when I returned like it was one big joke and he punked me. But when I walked in, he wasn't there. The apartment was empty. The emptiness never left.

Even later, when we went to Nick & Tommy's place, I swore I could just sense him there somewhere. And I never got to tell him goodbye. I never got to tell him I loved him. He left without knowing. And I was ANGRY. Angry at him for getting hurt. Angry at him for giving me space. Angry at him for not snapping me out of whatever mood I was in and not telling me to leave Mark. Angry at him for leaving us. Was that selfish of me, yes. But that is what I felt. Because dammit I missed him terribly.

The funeral and wake were a blur. Mark refused to go to either of them, saying that he didn't believe in funerals and, when I died he wouldn't go to mine either. Did I mention this was my ex-fiancee?? Yeah, what a piece of work he was. At the wake, everyone came out. Nicky touched a lot of people. People who fought made up, hatchets were buried and everyone was there for each other. The only memory I have of the funeral besides the church was that when I was at his casket, I pretty much collapsed. It was the first time that the emotion really struck me that Nicky was gone. It was the first time in a week where I really lost control.

No longer could I pick up a phone and tell him "Boston Billiards - NOW!" knowing that he would let me win a pool game or two as we had a beer or two and discussed the happenings of the day. No longer would I hear his Fonzy'esque voice at the other end of the phone telling me to have a great day. No longer would I feel the familiar fingers on the left side of my neck as his arm would casually sling over my shoulders. No longer would my protector be there. I was alone. And my heart was empty.

Do I think I will ever meet another person like Nick, no. Have I worked through the anger, yes. Do I miss him - every. single. day. However, I know I have one hell of a guardian angel upstairs. And I know that while he may have called himself an evil pain in the butt and would tell everyone he could that he more than likely was going to hell for his past deeds, he's upstairs probably lounging with his jacket falling off of his shoulders with a beer shaking his head at all of us. I'm not even mad at him for his constant joking that when he would pass, he would go out in a ball of flame.

I'm blessed to have even met him. He truly changed my life. He showed me how to be strong when I didn't know I had any strength left. He showed me how to pick myself up after tragedy. And, most of all, he showed me to treasure my true friends. You never know when they might be taken from you.

**That photo is the only photo I have of him (and I but, obviously, I have to cut myself out of it). We took that photo at this club, Razzl's at a George Lamond/Judy Torres concert in I want to say 1997. There was only ONE photo and, even better, it's a Polaroid. So, while the quality is not there, y'all get the idea.

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Posted by Lys :: 6:27 PM :: 6 comments

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