Friday, August 05, 2005

why i didn't get my license until i was almost 19

i was reading crazy us recently (link to the side - i'm tired) and beth has been writing of loss and grieving. one thing in particular that she wrote hit home with me. "They had every right to grieve. It was Survivors Guilt/The I-didn't-know-anyone-who-died issue."

the evening before my sixteenth birthday, 2 friends of mine were killed in a car accident. i received the call around 12:18 am on my birthday. the next day, i decided to go to school because i wanted to see my friends and grieve with them. many of them didn't know until the announcement which came with the morning bell. we were all free to pretty much roam that day and the next (thursday and friday) even though classes were held.

thursday, we left school at lunch and never came back. my friends spent the afternoon smoking pot while i watched because i wasn't interested in drugs in highschool.

friday afternoon, i went to the counselor's office where they were offering support. i asked them if they would take me to see my friend kat and take her out of class so that i could speak with her. we went to her class and asked that she be excused. the moment she came over the threshold of the doorway i burst into tears (for the first time - the first real cry, that is) and she grabbed me, holding me tight as she also burst into tears. "i'm sorry, i said, i haven't been able to cry until now." "me either", she whipered and we weeped and weeped for must have been 10 minutes until the counselor urged us to come back to her office for privacy.

back in the office, after we'd calmed down, we went into the main room where there were other students grieving. one of them was katie phillips. she was (is) 2 years younger than me and in my sister's class. i barely knew her, i had no opinion of her. she was speaking about how the loss of nate cox and beth powers was affecting her when i asked which person she knew. (nate was a senior and beth a sophmore so not many people knew them both. i was a junior.) she said she knew beth. "oh, how did you know her?" "she rode my bus home one day with a friend of hers?" "that's it?" and i flipped on her - i screamed and yelled. how dare you grieve for my friend when you didn't even know her??!!? i was so worked up that kat had to escort me out of the office. immediately.

i knew shortly after how wrong i was - that she was experiencing what beth calls Survivor Guilt but at the time - at 16 - i didn't care. i felt cheated as someone who suffered what i considered to be a real loss that this other little girl had the audacity to think she deserved a piece of it.

3 days ago, a childhood friend died of a diabetes-related incident. her name was shannon traynham (the link is for her stepmother, it's the only thing i could find). she was my neighbor. meaning that we spent every moment of every day together for about 7 or 8 years. we lived in a neighborhood without kids so she was pretty much our (my sister and my) only playmate. shannon was strong, smart, beautiful and a talented artist.

she ran away when she was a senior in highschool to go live with her mom. (her dad and stepmom are the ones who live across from my parents.) 2 days after she arrived in FL, her mom up and moved to kentucky with their new family. (i think it was kentucky - whatever the case, it wasn't nearby.) this left shannon alone save for an aunt she barely new.

for me, this was the death of her. i put her out of my mind, out of my memories. the saddest part for me right now is that she has an 8-yr-old child - a son, i think. regardless of whether she was a good mother (i have my doubts), he will miss her dreadfully. i'm feeling guilty right now for not being sadder, but then i found out maybe 12 minutes ago, so maybe it just hasn't hit yet.