Tuesday, June 5, 2012

20 Years

20 years ago today - on a hot humid Georgia night - I walked across a stage on a football field and was handed my high school diploma. Woo hoo! My yahoo friends in GA and I gathered in a corner of the field and tossed our hats and made a bunch of noise. It was a night to celebrate and that was what I was planning on doing. I made it home to a house full of people... and that's when things changed.

There was a phone call for me - a friend in Pennsylvania. I was assuming it was one of my best friends calling to congratulate me. See - I had moved to GA my freshman year in high school. I then spent every summer in PA hanging with my friends there - we wrote letters, called, etc. Never lost touch. I had super great sets of best friends in both GA and PA. I knew their graduation was the next day and I figured that surely this was one of them calling to say "Congrats man! You did it!"

Except that it wasn't.

Rather it was a phone call ABOUT one of my very best friends, Tye. That's him in the picture the girls are holding up there.

It seemed Tye and his girlfriend Lisa had been in a wreck. A bad one. Coming back from getting clothes for graduation, they had been hit by a truck. Things weren't good. Both Tye and Lisa were in bad bad shape. My night of fun and excitement didn't matter any more. Things started slowly tipping upside down...

Tye and I had been the best of friends for a while. He lived right by my grandma - and I spent a lot of time there. When I'd get up early and not wanna be at my house - I'd pedal it down to Tye's and wake him up (that fool could sleep!).

We played baseball together. We rode motorcycles together. We ran in fear and panic from his brother together. He was as goofy as anybody i ever knew and one talented athlete to boot. But now... that night - things were going all wrong.

I remember being SO MAD at God - a God I didn't even acknowledge or care about - I had the nerve to be SO MAD at Him. One of my very best friends heard the news and came to the house that night. He had become a Christian a year or so earlier and we had't really hung out much since (I wasn't the best influence for him for sure...). But he was there. I remember that clearly.

The next few days were a blur. In a matter of a few days, I went from graduation euphoria to carrying my best friend's casket at his funeral. I watched my other best friends grow up over night - delivering incredible speeches at Tye's graveside. I will never, ever forget those few days as we just spent time remembering Tye and trying desperately to cling to some semblance of our childhood that seemed to have disappeared in a blink of the eye.

I spent a lot of time out at Tye's grave. It's a gorgeous stone, a beautiful plot, always perfectly maintained by his family. Something about the smell of the countryside, the silence, the peacefulness... it is always nice there.

20 years Tye. 20 incredibly long and incredibly short years. There's so much you would have been down with - so much we would have done together, I just know it. I'm a different dude now man... you might not even recognize me...

I told my girls about you this week. They would have LOVED you and I am pretty sure you would have dug them.

That picture the girls are holding up there - your dad sent that to me shortly after the funeral with some incredibly kind words written on it. It hangs in my office at home and honestly - not too many days pass where I don't glance at it and think about ya.

I never would have said it back then - while you were here - cuz I was a tough guy and all of that - but I love ya Tye. You were WAY more than a friend - you were a brother. I wish you were still here.

20 years gone. But not forgotten.


Jay said...

Wow, Tymm, what a moving story. So much about you that I don't know. I lost a cousin in a car wreck when I was 19 and remember how tough it was. Your post reminds me of a quote from the movie Stand By Me: "I never had better friends than the friends I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?"

La Dolce Vita: The Sweet Life said...

Didn't know this story. So sorry.