Monday, April 8, 2013

Saying Goodbye

The past week has felt like a decade.  I've gone though every emotion imaginable and relived a tragic loss over and over again.  Last Sunday afternoon, I received a phone call that one of my closest, dearest, and oldest friends had tragically passed away.  I was in shock.  My body shook, no tears came, I was frozen, mute and unable to comprehend that someone who was such a integral part of my life for MOST of my life, was no longer on this earth.  A person that was as close as a sister to me.  

There are people that come into our lives that are there for a reason and that make an impact on our decisions, our personality, and our demeanor.  Danielle was one of those people who impacted mine from the day she stepped into it.  We became increasingly close after I graduated High School.  I'd drive up to Baskin Robbins where she worked, and watch her decorate ice cream cakes while I vented to her about my problems.  We hung out a lot and I spent a good deal of time with her family.  She'd call her mom on our way home and tell her to get the "box" ready (her trundle bed) because I was staying the night.  I spent MANY a night in that box.  Seeking comfort from her when I was down or needed a friend.  She was ALWAYS there to embrace me and help me through it.  

From that point on, we were close.  She introduced me to a group of people that have become some of my closest and best friends.  Friends that I can call on at any time.  People who come running when I need them. Girls that don't ask questions, they just get in the car come when they're needed.  SHE is the reason I have these wonderful people in my life.  I wouldn't be where I am today, be married to the man I'm married to, and be surrounded by the most loving community of people that anyone could know if it hadn't been for her.  Her family is like my own. Her sister like my own sister, her mother and father like second parents to me.  

Life will never been the same without her in it.  Her laugh and huge smile were infectious.  She could just laugh her silly, loud, booming laugh and it would immediately send me into hysterics.  I still hear that laugh in my head.  It was contagious to the point that I found myself laughing like her and Chad would say, "Ok, Danielle..." when I got really tickled and sounded like her.  What I wouldn't give to hear that laugh just one more time!

I could write a novel the size of a phone book of all the good times and great memories I've had the pleasure of sharing over the years with her and her family.  She was there for most every milestone I can think of. Weddings, baby showers, bachelorette parties, births, funerals.....through good times and bad.  She was there the night Amanda Frick and I fell off the mechanical bull and I broke my nose.  I was there the St. Patty's day when she ran into a cigarette with her eye and had to be rushed to the emergency room, then showed up at Monterrey's later with a patch---looking like One-eyed Willie. We had our own inside jokes.  She was certain the cure for a hangover was a diet coke and a chicken biscuit. And she always loved surprising me!  The day of my baby shower, she happened to "show up" when I thought she was in California.  For Beckett's 2nd birthday, while he was opening gifts, she walked in, still donned in running gear when I didn't think she could make it because she was running a marathon in Savannah, apologizing that she couldn't fit a shower in, but she wanted to be there!      

After her move back from California, I was thrilled she decided to buy a house very close to my office.  She would call me for advice on home decor and I'd run by to see the latest pillows or rug she'd bought to spruce up the new abode.  She and I were notorious returners and if I had something to run back to Marshall's or TJMaxx, I knew she'd most likely ride with me on my lunch break because we were both indecicive buyers.  We kidded eachother about it all the time!  

When I had a party a few months ago, she came and stayed with me the whole weekend.  Vacuuming, scrubbing my house and even potting some plants to help me prepare.  When Chad went on a ski trip to Aspen the beginning of March, I asked her if she'd like to come stay with me a night while he was gone.  Not only did she keep me company, she cleaned my kitchen and reset all my clocks from the time change while I was putting Beckett to bed.  I didn't know this was the last time I'd hug her and sit down to share a glass of wine and have a good talk.  I only wished I'd have squeezed her tighter when she left for work the next morning.  

I'm hurt.  Hurt for so many reasons!  Hurt that my friend who was so beautiful, in so many ways is gone.  It's unfathomable to me.  It's crushing.  After a week of spending time with her family and an enormous group of friends, I know I'm not alone.  We are all hurting and have so many questions.  But after sharing stories and the fact that I know her so well, I realize more each day that this was inevitable.  No one is at fault.  No one to blame.  We don't always understand God's plan, but through tragedy, some good will come.  I've learned more than ever that life is entirely too short.  People we love can be taken from us in the blink of an eye.  From now on, my hugs linger a bit longer and I squeeze a bit tighter.  I call more often and add "I love you" before hanging up.  Danielle was always one of those friends that said "love you" before hanging up or walking out the door.  That's only one of the long list of things that I will make sure I do with the ones I love.

I don't think she ever fathomed how many people loved her.  How many people cared for her and wanted the best for her.  Her great big smile would light up a room and caused her to never meet a stranger.  I hope that I can be just a bit more like that.  Smile a little more often, laugh a little more.  Possibly take up walking, or jogging (since I've never ran in my life), maybe plant some flowers in the yard.  Something she'd be proud of as a tribute to her.  

This past week was extremely hard for me.  I don't usually go more than about a week and a half without talking with her.  It's about the time that we would plan a lunch date or get together for a drink after work since I'm wrapping up tax season. I'll always love her.  Like many that loved her, I'll ask plenty of questions about WHY this happened.  But, you know what?  We'll all be okay.  If she taught me anything, she taught me how to be a friend and how to lean on my friends for support.  She was ALWAYS there when I needed her and by leaning on the Lord and leaning on those that I love, I'll make it through this.  

I miss and love you terribly, my sweet friend!  Until we meet again....

Perry "Danielle" Adkins 
November 17, 1980 - March 31, 2013 

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
2 Corinthians 1:3-5