Monday, April 23, 2012

In the Wind He's Still Alive...

Many of you who read the blog knew him, but most may not, so I'll give the short version.  Curt was my mom's long time partner, you would have called him my stepdad for how involved he was in my life, but he and my mom never officially married, so he was always just Curt.  He lived next door to us and was an almost constant figure in mine and Noah's lives for years and years.  He drowned on April 23rd, 2004, in a freak accident while working on an under water aeration system.  I remember the day like it was yesterday... it was a Friday afternoon and I happened to be home from college for the weekend for a belly dance show.  My mom and I were walking out the front door when a Chaplin car pulled up and a man dressed in all black with the telltale little white square below his chin got out and walked up to us.  He asked if we were Sybil and Rebeccah, we said we were.  My mom quickly asked, "Is it Curt. Is he okay?" The Chaplin replied, "No."  My mom then asked, "Is he alive?" Again, the Chaplin answered with the most simple, yet most heartbreaking word in the world, "No."  What happened next was something you see in movies, not something that's ever supposed to happen to you in real life.  I remember my mom screaming so loud that our neighbors came pouring out of their houses to see what had happened.  I remember calls from reporters wanting to get a statement for the evening news.  I remember seeing pictures on the TV of the four man crew that spent hours retrieving Curt from the deep water, because his body had become tangled in the system he'd been working on.  I remember going to the funeral home and not being able to go near his body because to get that close meant I'd have to admit to myself that he was really that word, which is used so often yet has a whole new meaning when it's someone so close to you, dead. I remember having to call my university and tell them that I wouldn't be able to make my final exams that were the following week, and thinking that this is some lie slackers probably give to get out of things.  "Death in the family"... seems so perfunctory and detached when written down on paper by the school administrator; if only it felt that way in your heart. 

Even after my parents' divorce, my dad has always been involved in our lives, so there was no real hole for Curt to fill, yet my memories of him are of fatherly ones nonetheless.  Him getting up at 4:30am to drive me to my dance line competition on the other side of the metro in his big red Dodge truck with its 4-wheel drive because the snow was so bad that no one else's car could even get off our city street.  I remember him embarrassing me so bad I literally turned bright red in front of my middle school crush at my golden birthday party when I was 14.  I remember him teaching me how to shoot a gun. I remember how much I thought he was a dork, which, if we're being honest, he was.  He was a dork... the simple, goofy, loving, unique, giving kind of dork that you take for granted because you never really think that someone won't make it to their 50th birthday.    

We never said "I love you" to each other.  I knew he loved me, he knew I loved him, but like happens so often in life, we don't tell people how much they really mean to us.  I never thought he'd be gone; leaving my mom to re-think the rest of her life decades before she'd ever imagined being a widow.  He probably never thought he wouldn't see me graduate from college, or get married, or have a baby.  But that's the beauty and tragedy of life, isn't it?  Nothing is promised to anyone.  You could live to be 100 or you could die tomorrow.  So even thought it's cliche I'm going to say it, never take a single moment for granted.  It's easier said than done, I know, but it's crucial to living a life with no regrets.  My greatest regret is that I never told him how I felt and, sadly, it's something I'll never be able to change. 

Curt was a huge Ted Nugent fan so his songs have become almost sacred in our family.  One song in particular still makes me cry almost every time I hear it.  The song is Fred Bear and it's actually a beautiful and moving song- unlike some of Uncle Ted's less family friend ones ;-) Go find it on YouTube, crank up the volume, close your eyes and just listen.  And when you're done, go find your spouse, your children, your friend, anyone you care about and hug them.  Tell them you love them and that you are so blessed to have them in your life.

We're not alone when we're in the great outdoors
We got his spirit, we've got his soul
He will guide our steps, he'll guide our arrows home
The restless spirit forever roam...
In the wind he's still alive
In the wind he's still alive
In the wind he's still alive
In the wind he's still alive 

I love you Curt.  I still miss you so much and I'm so sad that you never got to meet Jason or Eva, you would have loved them both, but I know I'll see you again and in the wind you're still alive.


1 comment:

  1. lovely tribute. made my heart swell and my eyes leak.