Monday, June 18, 2012

That day...

A few of the posts I make here will be old things...things I wrote a long time ago in various different places and am collecting them here.  That will probably happen mostly in the beginning.  The old things are good, though.  They are the reason, in some ways, that I'm writing this blog in the first place.  I wrote things then just because I needed to write.  Today I understand more about WHY I needed to write them and what they mean to the whole situation. 

The thing I'm going to post today is something I wrote in an online journal I was keeping at the time of Leslie's murder. At the time, I wrote it just to remember what happened.  Every day was becoming a blur and I was struggling to remember even how it all came about.  I needed to remember the exact facts (facts again...noticing a trend?) of the moment my life changed from "before Leslie died" to "after Leslie died".  Because, even now, that's still how I divide my life. 

But I recommend this if you are going through this kind of monumental tragedy...whatever it is.  Write it down...everything.  Even the bits that you think aren't important, because you might forget them and read them later and realize they were the most important bits of the whole day. 

I'm not going to go into it today because this thing is pretty heavy, but there is a bit in this piece that has ended up being on of the most important (and POSITIVE) bits of my whole life in the five years since this day.  For serious.  I love you, Upstairs Amy.  (For you strangers who are not Upstairs Amy or do not know who that is, we'll get to that....promise.)

From here on out the writing was actually done on May 16th, 2007...seventeen days after Leslie's death.  Typos and all.

On Sunday, April 29th, Leslie called me on her way to the mall from the gym. She didn't say she was going to Ward Parkway...just shopping. I guess I thought it was Oak Park, or Marshall's, or even the grocery store. But I guess I knew she was going shopping for clothes or something because I had this feeling of guilt, even then, because I didn't want to go shopping for clothes with her. I didn't want to go for two reasons:
a) i was worried about the way she was spending money...really worried, actually, and I didn't really want to be a part of it.
but reason b) is the most guilt-ridden...and true. I was SO proud of Leslie for her weight loss. She looked a different person, really. And becoming thin, or at least normal sized, had been something she had wanted for a LONG time. But it was getting increasingly difficult for me to go shopping with her and sit in the dressing room of stores where there was NOTHING that would fit me and watch her put on size 8's and 10's. I felt jealous and annoyed. And then I'd get kind of blue and mopey, and I know she could tell. And then I'd feel guilty because if *I* had made it to a size 8, I would SO want someone to sit in the dressing room with me, beaming and jumping up and down, and telling me I looked great. So the next time, I would do that. I'd pretend I was gloriously happy. And I WAS gloriously happy...FOR her. But not myself. And then I'd go home and be blue and mopey by myself.
The truth is, I missed my fat friend. I missed the one I could commiserate with....the one person in the whole world who I knew TRULY understood. And I guess I knew she she still understood. But she'd come out of the tunnel and was waiting for me on the other side. I wanted someone to be in the tunnel with me. So I didn't go shopping with her much anymore.

And I didn't go shopping with her on the 29th of April.
She said, "Do you want to go to dinner with Christy (high school friend) and I tonight? Come be the single girl who pokes fun at the married lady with me."
And again I said no. I didn't want to go to dinner with the married lady. I said "no thanks." And she said "I understand. Feel better" she said at 3:26 pm. At 3:29 she would be shot in the neck and die instantly.
I told Leslie I do not want to be with you today...TWICE on the day she died.

That afternoon, I DID go shopping, but I went shopping for healthy diet food. And I came home to news of a shooting at Ward Parkway. I didn't even think for one second about Leslie being there. I didn't think about Leslie at all.

I called my mom as I walked the dog and asked her if she'd heard about the shooting. We talked about how a lot of Sion kids went to that mall and I said that I was glad no children had been shot. Then we talked about gun of the political issues we always solidly agree on...and we tsk tsked and said it was sad.

When I got back to my place, I put away the healthy food and I sat down to write my plan for food and exercise for Monday in the weight loss livejournal Leslie and I shared. She didn't respond...which was weird.
That evening, I had a pseudo fight with my neighbor. I wanted to get that off my chest with Leslie, because she knows about my neighbor. I called her at 8:30. no answer. No big deal, she often ignores my calls if she's out on a date or something. I thought maybe she had reconciled with Paul after her dinner with Christy or something. Called her again at 12:15. No answer. VERY weird. Called again at 1:15, by this time leaving messages asking her where the hell she was. I was starting to get kind of mad...but not at all worried. Finally I went to bed thinking maybe she had a REALLY good reconciliation with Paul.

On Monday morning Brooke called while I was drying my hair. I didn't hear it ring. By the time I got the message, I was pretty much going out the door to get to work...going to be late, as usual. She was obviously upset on the message asking me to call her back as soon as possible. And she ended it with "I love you." The bosom friends say "I love you" all the time, so it wasn't that she said it that was odd, but the WAY she said something was wrong. I knew she was upset, but I was going to be late. And I couldn't find my purse. I was running around the house looking for my purse. While looking, I decided to call would be early for Leslie, but I thought maybe she could talk with Brooke for a while so I could get to work, get my kids started on something, and then call her myself. When I called Leslie this time, her cell phone was OFF, and that just never happens. Again, I wasn't worried...just noticed it was strange. I figured Brooke had probably already TRIED to call Leslie, but, since she had turned off her phone, couldn't get her so I thought I had better call her. Screw work...bosom friend was upset. So I called Brooke...and my whole world changed.

Brooke was less noticeably upset when I called her...obviously still just as upset but not crying. She asked me if I had talked to Leslie. I said, yeah, I had, yesterday at about 3:30. Brooke said "She went to the mall." I said, "I know." She said "No, Amy, she went to Ward Parkway." I remember saying "No she didn't." But I really didn't know that. Then I started freaking out a little. I think Brooke must have thought I was going to go to work, or maybe she was just terrified to tell me, but she told me then that she didn't know much more, even though she did, and she said maybe I should call my mom and see if she knew anything. I think all of this is what was said, because I can't remember much from this point.

I called my mom and told her....shaking and kind of screechy..."Mom, Leslie was at Ward Parkway." She kind of screamed at me..."What!?" and I told her what Brooke said. I said, "Mom, I need you to call hospitals." I have no idea why I asked her to do that. And I have no idea why she so readily accepted. But she did. I called work and said I was going to be late. I kept trying to find my purse. I was starting to get a little frantic. I couldn't find it.

The phone rang again and it was my mom.
And she said "Baby, we're coming."
And I said "Is she dead?"
And she said the thing that made me know it.
She said "Are you by yourself?"
And I screamed at her. I screamed "IS SHE DEAD!?"
And she just said "yes".

And then I just remember falling.

I must have hung up the phone because it rang again. It was my mom. She said she was calling my friend Susan, the counselor at my school to come over. She said she was on her way with my dad.

I started looking for my purse so frantically, like I thought Leslie would be inside. I called my neighbor Amy and I screeched at her not "Leslie's dead!" but, "I CAN'T FIND MY PURSE!!!"

Amy came down and we found my purse. But Leslie was not inside.

But I am still looking there...

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