The Catt Box

 

'Bittersweet'

 

(don't leave me here alone....please, Ron...don't let this be true...)

My mind was racing...thought after thought...disbelief, shock, and I kept trying to shake it off....closing my eyes...pressing them tighter together...opening them slowly, only to find that I was still in the nightmare. I was smoking one cigarette after another... I had to do something. My hand reached up to smooth the place on my neck where his 'passion mark' was still visible....and that inspired more tears.

Robin and Gregg had returned. Something's wrong....they're driving so slow. My heart began to beat faster as I noticed that Robin wasn't leaping from the car with smiles and laughter. She wasn't going to tell me that everything was alright. I didn't take my eyes off of her. I wanted her to come to me, but then again, I didn't....I wouldn't want to hear what she had to tell me. And she didn't want to walk up those steps and tell me what she had to say to me, either. 

They approached the steps slowly....with Gregg only glancing at me a few times....then looking back at Robin. Ron was not with them. Ron was not getting out of the car. I drew my breath in slowly...and held it....forcing away the thoughts that were screaming at me in my mind....

Oh, no!...oh, no...God no!

Gregg began to move a little faster than Robin...after all, he wasn't my best friend...he wasn't the one who had to tell me that the man I loved and was waiting for was killed on his way to see me. It wasn't his responsibility, it was Robin's. He was right in front of Robin and I looked at him....(oh, God...I'll do anything if you just make this not true....please....)

Gregg pursed his lips, looked down, and barely nodded his head in confirmation of the news. But it wasn't until I saw Robin that I finally believed it...had to believe it....knew that it was true. I just wanted her to hold me. I felt so small...so tiny...frail.

Robin got within inches of me and grabbed me in a tight embrace and cried out, "He's gone, baby....he's gone...I'm so sorry....." Through the tears she managed to tell me that 20 minutes after I had been talking with him, his Datsun pick-up truck ran off of the road and hit a tree....on Lapidum Road. We just held each other and cried. There were no more 'what ifs'....there were no more 'maybes'.

And THIS was the 'bad thing' that would happen to us this weekend. No one saw this coming....not anything THIS bad.

I don't remember how long we stood there...I can't even recall all of my thoughts. I know that somehow we ended up back in Robin's bedroom. Johnny came in and sat quietly beside me on the bed. I was in a glazed, relaxed stare...trying to absorb this horror. Johnny was stroking my hair and wiping tears from my face....I didn't know I was still crying.... and he was telling me he loved me. I was numb with shock. This does not happen....what are the chances of this happening?

I don't remember all that Johnny was saying to me at the time...but whatever it was, it was right...and he was doing the right thing....somehow I just needed to be touched by someone alive. I felt so alone, scared, and abandoned. Why did he leave me?

All of the sweet memories of Ron were filling my head....the moments we had...the things we said....the way he loved me...our plans....Oh, God...our plans! This can't be over...we're not finished. I never got to tell him I loved him. (I love you...)

Our love was still in the 'perfect' state...no disappointments, no hurt, no anger, not even our first misunderstanding ....it was all still 'butterflies in the stomach', not being able to sleep, and not being able to eat. All we wanted to do was sit and think of each other all the time. We were both losing a little weight....we were falling in love...we just 'lived on' each other. Everything about us was adorable to the other...nothing 'unsightly'...nothing 'unattractive'....(I love you...)

I got up from sitting on the bed and went back out on the staircase landing....to stand, once more, where Ron first kissed me. Where my first feelings for him were born. Where I learned that his death was true. Robin told me the very first things I ever knew about Ron...and now she had to tell me the last thing I was to ever know about him. And somehow, just standing on that spot kept him alive for a little longer. It kept him closer to me.

I went back into the apartment and into the living room this time. I couldn't stand to be alone at the moment....I wanted to be with my friends. They didn't die and leave me here alone. They were alive and waiting for me, too....

I spent the entire evening crying, talking, crying, talking, remembering, and questioning. I was drained of energy, tired, exhausted, numb...and very tired of crying.  As the early morning set in I was wanting to be alone again. I was beginning to want to go home. And though I had been crying all night, something told me I would be crying harder.....that I needed to....but not yet.

I also knew that even though my mom was not an affectionate woman, I needed her. My father was killed when my mom was 26 years old and I was 27 now....and now I think I knew what she must have gone through. I could relate to her. I knew that seeing her when I did go home would prompt the hard cry I knew was still in me. 

My mother and I were not close at all...but somehow, I knew that even if she didn't say a word, that she would at least understand what I was going through.

I was beginning to feel sick in my stomach. I rode with Robin to go take her mom to work and we had to pull over...I was sick. When we returned to Robin's apartment we all went our separate ways to try to get some sleep.....we had been awake all night. I was amazed that sleep came at all. I slept for two hours. I woke up to something sliding down my cheek, and it was a tear. A single tear. And then reality came and reminded me of how alone I was now. Ron is gone. (I love you....)

After we were all awake and after I had two cups of coffee, I began to feel the urge, again, to go home. The tears were coming again and I was getting closer to exploding, but I had to be alone to do this. We waited a few more hours until Robin's mom got off of work and went to pick her up and take her home. Now I could go home...I needed to go home. I was almost there...hold on a little longer...

If I could hold out until I saw mom...cry with her, then I could face my bedroom....where I was to be alone. Where I could see his picture again...the one that was taken the week before. I would see the radio dial still sitting on Ron's favorite radio station. I would see the sheets on my bed, where he laid the last time we loved. He won't get to see how I rearranged my bedroom. I hurt so bad.

Here I am....God give me strength. Robin and I walked into the house and headed straight for the kitchen. I knew mom would be in the living room and I had to prepare myself. Meanwhile, Robin carried my things back to my room for me. And I knew exactly what Robin was going to do...I know her...she would march over to his picture and call him names and cuss him out for drinking and driving like that....and for taking himself away from us. 

I heard Robin coming back into the kitchen and I knew she had been crying....she came over to me and put her arms around me and said she loved me. We held each other crying. At long last my whimpers and sighs and silent tears had now turned to crying hysteria. It was all coming out loud and clear. 

Just then, from no where, I felt my mother's arms pulling my arms around her. "God, mom....I loved him so much!"...I practically screamed the words out, with what little voice I had left. The three of us stood there in the kitchen together and cried, holding each other. And all along I could hear Robin's gentle voice, as though off in the distance, saying over and over, "I love you, baby, I love you. I'm here, I'm gonna help you." Robin was letting me know that even though Ron was gone, I was loved by someone. 

Robin was friends with my Ron...and she was grieving his loss, too. And though she had her own hurt, she was trying to take on some of my pain, too. How do you ever re-pay someone for that?

One by one, as the crying slowed down, we let go of one another. I think that is the only time in my entire life my mom ever hugged me like that. Robin had to go home. She was exhausted, too. I had a long way to go in my journey in grieving Ron. I began to tell mom all about what had happened. I was stalling for time. I wasn't sure if I was ready to go to my bedroom yet.

The time came to go to my room. I only remember being in the kitchen....and then being in front of my bedroom door. I don't remember walking through the house at all. I took a deep breath and opened the door. I could smell the faint smell of the perfume I put on when I left the room on Saturday afternoon. The perfume that Ron was supposed to enjoy. And the last time I was in this door-way, Ron was alive, and I was happy and on my way to spend the evening with him. That was a far cry from the somber being I had become since then.

I went right into my room and headed for Ron's picture. I took it down from my message board and held it to my chest....the stinging tears rushed down my face...."Oh, Ron...how I loved you." I couldn't speak anymore, not to anyone....not even to Ron. I just wanted and needed to cry.

I sat on the bed...on the sheets where he last laid down ....I had to touch them. I looked over to my closet at the clothes I made just to wear for Ron. I didn't want to wear them anymore. 

I was still wearing the clothes I had on during Saturday night....the ones I made for Ron to see me in. I didn't want to change them. I didn't want to take my nail polish off...I put the polish on my nails for him. I felt that everything I attempted to change would be chipping more of him away from me...and if I didn't change anything, he would still feel close to me....I would be able to hang onto him a little bit longer. It was bad enough that he was gone from me forever, I couldn't bear the thought of separating myself from anything else that had anything to do with him. I was clinging to everything that I could. 

I began to call my friends and other family members. I needed their comfort. My friends did come over...I would go from wanting to be around people, to wanting to be alone. I just wanted to listen to my music, write, and re-live every moment we ever had, in my mind. I wanted to close my eyes and see him smile at me.

On August 30th my sister Christy went to school...first day back after the summer months. Dad was at work, Bambie was in the beauty shop with Beulah, and Mom was in the kitchen making coffee. Nothing had changed for anyone but me. They were all preoccupied with their every-day routines. My entire life had changed. I wanted the world to stop and let me off. I didn't want to die...but I didn't want to live, either. 

 

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August and September 1982 and January 22, 2001 Copyright Cathy Palmer - Scruggs /  Catt Alexander

 

Background by Whisper