It was only one hour ago
It was all so different then
Kevin Wellard was an incredible person I knew once upon a time. I don't believe I have ever come across someone who did not like him. He was that kind of guy. He was initially one of Shawn's friends. We hit it off from the start.
Kevin was rather short and stocky when I met him. Long blonde hair, blue eyes that sparkled like Santa Claus. If anyone embodied the spirit of Christmas, it was Kevin. He was the type of guy who was a very caring and respectful companion. The unfortunate side effect for guys like this, is that they often get their hearts broken. But he never let it stop him. He gave and he gave and he never asked for anything in return. He represented the ideal of selfless love.
It wouldn't be completely untrue to say that every girl who knew him couldn't help but be a little in love with him. In the same way that one falls in love with a song or a star or a dream. In the same way that one keeps a little piece of themselves for someone who would expect no more than they were willing to give him. It never came to fruition, it was just there, unspoken, but never apologetic. His last girlfriend was good for him, she made him happy. He needed this after a long life of heartache. He was just starting. Everything was good.
In November of 1999 I found out that I was pregnant with my second child. One night, Shawn and I went out to celebrate. Kevin happened to be tending the bar at the restaurant we went to. He offered me a drink and I declined. He questioned this, so I told him. "Kevin, I am having a baby."
His eyes were a mixture of mischief and happiness. "A baby? Another one?"
Yes. "Wow, congrats, guys!" He shook Shawn's hand and kissed my cheek. Warmth. He radiated warmth.
Small pause. Then: "It's not mine, right?" Laughter. He bugged me about it and asked me to name the little guy after him. I laughed and said of course, of course I would. "Really? You would?" There was something in his eyes; hope? I disregarded the notion and laughed and nodded yes.
Fate has a nasty way of reminding you of these little things that you brush off as casual talk and laughter and simplicity.
Six months later, Shawn picked me up from work and we stopped at home to clean up before dropping our first child off at my parents' home. We had made plans for dinner and to go see a movie. We got in the car and I mentioned talking to Shawn's brother Michael earlier that day.
"Oh. Did he tell you?"
"About Kevin." Long pause. A queasy feeling built up in my stomach. I know. I already know. Oh God, no.
"No, what about him? Tell me." I took a long swallow and hoped prayed hoped prayed oh please oh please...
"Grace. Kevin died last night. In a car accident." He told me this and my world spun-slipped-slid all over the place. I was in total shock. Oblivious to the rest of the story.
the news that truely shocks
is the empty, empty page
Shawn pulled out of the driveway as I fought back tears. I was 7 months pregnant. I was getting married to Shawn in five months. I just discovered that my dear friend, who was honored and delighted to accept the responsibility of speaking at our wedding, was now dead.
Dead dead dead, that word was like a lead weight in my stomach and my throat burned and my head pounded and I wanted to scream and scream.
Shawn was kind enough to let me stay in the car while he brought our daughter into my parents' home. The minute he reached their door, I sobbed. For the first time in years, my heart was completely broken. I could not believe it. I refused. Everything inside me was falling, screaming against it.
while the final rattle rocks
its empty, empty cage...
and I can't handle this
Later on. The wake. It was heartwrenching. There were so many people, he was adored by many. Why why why kept ringing in my head. I was fine. I was fine. I was fine. And then:
"To my knight in shining armor, now my guardian angel." Flowers from his girlfriend. The heart I had hastily pasted together again snapped. I wanted to run until my lungs ran out of breath, run and run away from it and hope when I returned it would be gone. I had to go. Hot tears in my mouth, barely whispering apologies to nobody and everybody. So many, many people were there that day. Oh, Kevin...
I sobbed at home. And then, numbness. Headachey feelings. I needed sleep. I need to crawl into some warm space and sleep the forgetful sleep of a child.
Later, I lay in bed in the dark, the baby kicking gently as Shawn listened to my belly.
"Grace." A broken word. Only then, when enveloped in the safety of darkness, could Shawn start to feel the loss.
"Yes?" Head still aching and throat hot from tears yet to be shed.
"Let's name him Kevin." Hands reverently stroked my hard belly. We did not know what I was having, it was to be a surprise. But somehow, we knew. It was a boy.
I had been thinking of the same thing. I had been thinking about that day in the restaurant. "Ok then. Let's." Silently his tears seeped into my belly, my own cheeks also staining with salt. Even now, even as I write this, it hurts.
did I dream this belief
or did I believe this dream?
how will I find relief?
Kevin was twenty-six when he died. He didn't know what hit him. A truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and rammed right into him at 4 am on the fourth of May. On July 21, his namesake was born. How I love him so. And I know that Kevin had no idea what an impact he had on those around him. It was not in his nature to realize it, nor to look for it. But I hope that somewhere, his spirit is smiling, that he sees this and knows.
Selfish creature that I am, I still grieve. Because grief is ultimately a selfish act; one of the few I indulge in. Grief is encompassing and it can drown you within seconds. But it also keeps those you love alive in your mind. That too, is selfish. It would be easier on the heart to simply let go. But my heart never was any good at logic.
We are all shadows colliding into each other. We are all profound entities that add and subtract from each other. And when one leaves, where does the collection of shadows that one has accumulated end up? This is why we mourn...we lose a piece of ourselves when someone we care about dies.
lyrics thanks to Peter Gabriel