When you lose a person you love, some days hit harder than others. Every day is painful though. You always have that feeling. Today was Mother’s Day and it was hard for me. As I have talked about a few months ago, I lost someone very special to me, Kerry Kerr. We had gone to school together, had classes together. I got into drama to be closer to her. We graduated high school together 25 years ago.
Little did we know, we both liked each other while we were in high school. It took us over 20 years to admit to each other. I never really knew who in my hometown liked me or “liked liked” me. I grew up in Calhoun, Ga., in the northwest part of the state. It wasn’t as far away from Atlanta and Chattanooga to be considered a suburb, but it mostly was a town in which certain people dated certain people no questions asked. It was what was expected.
I guess if it had been a different time, we might have realized it sooner. She was the daughter of a Methodist pastor. I was one of the few people whose parents didn’t have the most money. Not to say her parents were rich. They lived in a parsonage. She, along with I, tried our hardest to get scholarships that just went to the students who didn’t need them.
Even though I was considered one of the smarter students, I had a stigmata that in the 1990s made me a target. You see my parents got officially divorced in the late summer of 1993, the same time I met Kerry as her family had moved to Calhoun. If your parents got a divorce in that community, somehow it was a scarlet letter on you.
Since she was pretty and wore nice clothes, Kerry assimiliated toward some of the preppy students. And, I, a band geek and academic team nerd, hung around with my friends. I wore grunge clothes and actual grunge clothes, not the ones that were expensive grunge. It was mostly T-shirts of Monty Pythons, The Far Side or bands and concerts. I showered and shaved every day, but still I was considered “gross.”
Now, I look at a lot of the insults as compliments. It’s better to be considered different than to be basic. Nothing I hated more was all the preppy kids who blasted rap music like they were gangsta but probably were quick to lock their doors whenever they saw more than three black people in eyesight.
Something happened during her first term at the school that I’m not going to discuss, but she was the immediate target of bullying and jokes. A lot of them were very bad. She would later tell me I was one of the few people who wasn’t mean to her. I knew how awful people in that community and school could be. I was almost kicked out of the saved seating area of a football game because my parents weren’t important, according to a P.E. coach who was having an affair with another teacher.
I felt she needed a friend, more than some creepo who wanted to get into her pants. So many people in that community were constantly having sex with each other, a dozen people at random could all spit into a petri dish and start a new species. The mascots of the schools could be date rapists. And as she said, a lot of guys didn’t like her because she wouldn’t “put out.”
We graduated but really never kept in touch. It was the 1990s. There was no social media and cells phones were still considered a luxury. And her family moved out of Calhoun after her senior year and I didn’t know where they went to. I was also trying to put everything behind me and start over anew at Georgia Southern University. There were douchebags there but you didn’t have to see them on a regular basis.
Years later when she got married, she invited one of my good friends to her wedding. I had already moved to Oklahoma. He told me she had asked about me. Social media was around but not as widespread then. I saw an email with her address in a group email he sent out once, but didn’t want to bother her. Maybe I should. But a few years later, we reconnected on Facebook and MySpace and got to know each other more.
Kerry was working for The Coca-Cola Company out of Atlanta and I was still in podunk Oklahoma. Again, I felt I wasn’t good for her to be anything but a friend. But over the years, we’d talk every now and again, just as friends. There was some bad moments in her life. I won’t discuss them here I soon found out later and my worst fears I had were real.
In 2016, she was attacked through an attempted robbery or carjacking but got the best of the scumbag by kicking him in the groin with her stiletto heels. I nearly lost her then. When she posted about it on social media, I first thought she was sharing something that happened to someone else. For the first time in my life and no hyperbole, but I wanted to kill him. I thought of what I would do with just 10 minutes alone with this dirtbag. I also don’t think it was a random act, but I really shouldn’t go any further.
I soon got angry and depressed. As the health of my ex also began to fall down hill, I realized that I nearly lost two of the people I loved the most within a short amount of time. My ex had suffered a mini-stroke or something in the summer of 2016, less than three months prior to Kerry’s attack. The next three years were hard.
But Kerry was always there for me. We talked and I could tell her things that I couldn’t tell others. And then in 2019, she told me some other things about a previous marriage and my fears were realized. She had moved to Phoenix in 2013 and was on her way back to Georgia passing through Oklahoma her furbaby passed in 2015. She had wanted to stop here and see me, but said she was too busy crying, she didn’t want me to see her like that.
I didn’t mind. I would have seen her no matter what. I wanted to see her. We had said “I love you” to each other but it was as friends. Then, in 2019, she finally told me she was actually in love with me. And I told her the same.
My relationship with my ex was almost over so I thought this could was a sign. It had nothing to do with my relationship with Kerry. It was other things I won’t get into right now. But 2019 was ending and 2020 was beginning. We were talking about how we would have a new life together finally.
I began 2020 by proposing marriage to her, by text. I had hope to do the real thing in person, using my old class ring as an engagement ring. And then, the Covid-19 pandemic happened in March of that year and things changed. I know Kerry loved me. We continued to talk a lot over text and phone calls. But I can tell she was hurting. She lost some people she knew to Covid.
Kerry couldn’t have kids of her own. And I’m not going to go into details. My ex couldn’t have anymore kids as she had a hysterectomy. What are the odds that the two women I loved the most I couldn’t have a kid with? My dumb luck, right?
But Kerry and I had talked about adoption and even about using a surrogate. However, as things would go, my dumb luck would become something worse. I had a car that needed some repair work. I used my first stimulus check to work on it and then my third. But one year ago this May, I actually felt like things were turning around.
You see, my brother was finally getting to have his wedding in August of 2021 after proposing from November of 2020. Kerry, who was living near Orlando, was going to fly up to Atlanta. But things didn’t work out that way. My dumb luck, right? I don’t know what exactly happened. Kerry had some things come up. And I think I finally got Covid or some minor form of it.
I missed the wedding. I really didn’t want to go without her. But I was still holding out hope we just needed more time. Like most people, sometimes, you have to work on yourself first before you can begin a relationship. Maybe I needed to be alone here in Oklahoma for two years.
Kerry had moved to a small town in eastern North Carolina and had begun a job working for a non-profit organization, something she had wanted to do. She looked so happy helping out at the Christmas parade. And pics of her at Christmas showed her sweet self looking so happy.
But she got sick shortly after that and it started out as abdominal pain. I think it was just a stomach bug, but it got worse. She texted me late at night and said she needed to talk. I replied but didn’t hear anything. I called and got the voicemail. Since it was Appalachia and she was using a different telephone carrier, it may have not been able to go through properly.
I never heard from her again. About 10 days later, she passed away after I had learned from a friend of hers she had been in hospice care. It was like a gut punch. I was so angry. I still am. I don’t know if I will ever not be angry.
This wasn’t just someone I dated for a bit and it didn’t work out. This was someone I had known for many years. This was someone I turned to when I need someone to talk when no one else wanted to hear it. This was someone who could make me feel better just by a social media post. This was the love of my life.
And now she’s gone. And now, there’s a part of my life that is over. It’s hard trying to get through the days. The first Valentine’s after her death was hard. The first Easter was hard. And now, the first Mother’s Day is hard.
I know people will say, you’ll find someone else. But will I? How do they know? If I do, I’ll hold them to that standard. They’ll have to realize that Kerry was important to me. And at 43 and suffering from disabilities, it can be a turn off for some.
I’ll forever miss her. I’m angry that she was never able to be the good mother I she knew would be. She was a wondeful aunt to her nieces and all her friends from school and work. She was one of the sweetest most caring women ever. And I’ll always love her.