Nineteen years. Wow. It has been nineteen years.......
Wednesday, April 27, 1983.......I was 15 and in the 9th grade. Ironically, it started off as a good day. Mom & I had recently gone shopping, and I had on my new white cotton pants and a mostly hot pink but also teal & white striped shirt. A very hip 80s outfit.....especially for me. I wasn't one of the popular kids. In biology in 1st period, even that stupid ole boy that paid so much attention to my beautiful friend Alissa told me that I looked nice that day. After school, my best friend Blaire & I laid out, and, then, I put on white shorts with my new "mostly hot pink but also teal & white striped shirt" and went to Wednesday night church.
A little history here: I was raised Southern Baptist and when I was a teenager was very active in the youth group. My friends & I were always doing something church-related (bible study, choir, retreats, handbells, musicals, mission trips, etc.) . So....on Wednesday nights, Mom & I would go to dinner at the church, and, then, to various activities.
So on this particular Wednesday night nineteen years ago, I was going through the serving line with my best friend at church, Jennifer. I remember I was holding a plate of beef tips on rice and getting my lemonade while church announcements were being made. Our associate pastor uddered the words that are burned in my memory:
"There's been a tragedy today; Tim Schlagenhauf was killed."
I don't remember how I made it through the next few minutes. I think that I went in to shock standing right there with my beef tips on rice & lemonade. Jennifer took the plate and cup outta my hands and somehow I ended up in the kitchen where my Mom was helping serve dinner. I remember screaming. Loud.
You see, I was in love with Tim, as much as a fifteen year old girl can be. I had taken him to my 8th grade Spring Dance and to the Sadie Hawkins dance just 3 mos prior to his death. We never kissed, and he never even held my hand. At church, we were buddies. He & his best friend Randy used to call me Lady Di and pick on me like teenaged boys do. The day that we buried Tim, his mom told me that he had really liked me but didn't want to be tied down. This probably was the first time that I learned that "COMMITMENT" is stamped on my forehead in invisible ink that only men can read. Even when I was 15, I came across as a girl that you settle down with.
Nineteen years.....and I'm still crying. I don't cry because I wish that I was with Tim now. I love Andrew with all my heart, and I don't wish away a moment that I've spent with him. When I cry, I cry for the fifteen year old girl whose heart was broken clean in two and who learned about death & grief in a way that would scar her for the rest of her life. I cry because I never kissed him. I cry because I never took a chance to tell him how I felt. Yeah, he knew, but I risked nothing really. I can be thankful that I took him to those dances. I have great pictures of us all dressed up. Me, trying so hard to look like Lady Di.
I wonder *how* exactly that Tim's death shaped who I am. Does it explain why I fear the death of those I love so much? Is it why I always wanted a younger man so statistically he wouldn't die before me? Could it possibly explain why I lie in bed worried that someone that I love will die and that I've left something unsaid? I wonder....
Anyway, I should drop his parents a note some time. I usually write to them around this time or at the holidays......just so they know that I haven't forgotten their son and I never will.