Monday, January 14, 2013

Sometimes the pain is too deep, and you just have to go home.

Elvis, Rob and Kevin, 2010
You go to bed on Saturday night and think the next day is going to be a lazy Sunday. And then everything changes, and the world on Sunday night is forever altered for someone you love.

When my husband, Kevin, moved from his hometown in Illinois years ago, he left behind his two best friends, Elvis and Rob.  The three of them would never live in the same city again, but their bonds would never be broken; whenever Kevin would return to Rochelle for a visit, time with Elvis and Rob was usually on his schedule.  He and Rob were best men in one another’s weddings; any story he told about the old days was punctuated with “and then Robbie said…” or “…and then Robbie and I (insert something potentially illegal here).”

And every story is punctuated by laughter. A lot of laughter.

Rob married and had a family and became a policeman, then Rochelle's police chief. He was well-known and well-loved, and Kevin was proud of him. But he also would have been proud of him if he’d sold insurance or worked at a dime store or dug ditches. 

He'll never get the chance to tell Rob again that he's proud of him, though. Kevin woke to the news yesterday, via Elvis, that Rob had died.  He had been ill with a usually minor illness, maybe the flu, and he had gone to bed and hadn’t woken up.

To watch one’s spouse hurt to this degree is something I’ve never experienced.  When Kevin’s dad died, Kevin was devastated – but that death was anticipated.  That didn’t make it easier, but it had given Kevin time to prepare somewhat. This, though, was not only sudden and wholly unexpected, but wrenching on a formative level.

So much of Kevin is tied to Rob. Rob was Kevin’s touchstone to his childhood – they became friends in third grade – and also to his teenage years. First dates, first kisses, first money-making scheme (driving across the border to Wisconsin, where the drinking age was 18, and buying beer to bring home and sell to Illinois kids at three times the retail price).

Rob was there for Kevin’s first marriage and the birth of his first child, and he was there when the marriage fell apart.  He was a constant, and he was always supposed to be there – especially for the wife and three children he leaves behind, but also for the friends his life helped to shape.

Kevin didn't talk with Rob every day, but I guarantee he thought of him. Actually, in all our years of marriage, I don't think we've gone more than a couple of days during which Kevin hasn't mentioned Rob. As anyone else who's reached a certain age knows, as the years fly by, the past comes into sharper focus. For Kevin, Rob has always been in the middle of that virtual viewfinder.

Men absolutely can love one another.  Kevin really, truly loved Rob.

When you marry someone in middle age, someone with whom you don't share an early history, it's difficult to know how to help when something of this magnitude happens. I can’t help ease Kevin's pain, but I can listen. And most importantly, as I'll do tonight, I can pack him up and send him back where he came from, to say goodbye to Rob with the others who knew him -- and loved him -- best.

1 comment:

  1. This is so beautifully written Lisa. I had a lump in my throat by the time I finished reading your post. I'm a friend of your mother-in-law. She called to tell me of Rob's passing and I was shocked. I remember when Shirley baby-sat Rob's children, so many years ago. Thank you for sharing.