It’s strange how certain days that are memorable have certain familiarities to them. When I was with my ex, she got admitted to the hospital on Jan. 2, 2018 with pnuemonia and RSV. We drove to a Tulsa hospital in the middle of the night. A year later, on Jan. 2, 2019, we were back at another hospital and she was diagnosed with pnuemonia as well. Both day were very cold because of the time of the year.
It was one year ago today, Feb. 3, that my life changed forever and it was the worst day of my life in the 44 years, six months and 20 days since I was born. I’ve had bad days. I’ve had trying days. I’ve had days that wore me out and days I were glad were over. But that day, there was no other way to feel than to realize it was probably going to be the worst day of my life so far.
It was on this day that Kerry, a woman I had known for almost 30 years and loved almost from the start, passed away. Looking back, it probably would’ve hurt less maybe if it had been a surprise. But it wasn’t. I had gotten up this day worried about her. I looked for her on Facebook and saw a post from a friend that her death was imminent that day. I had been fearing this would happen for some time.
The previous Sunday, I tuned into the live stream of the Methodist church she was a member and the pastor asked for prayers as she was in ICU and being moved to an “extended care center.” He meant hospice care. “Extended care center” sounds different, almost like she might rebound. About a week earlier, she had contacted me at around 1:30 a.m. my time by text saying she needed to talk. I texted back but got no response. I called and got the voicemail. I tried to contact through Facebook messenger but got no response.
She was living at the time in western North Carolina and I guessed the higher elevation sent her messages at a delay. I knew she had used an iPhone while I had a Samsung android and my mom, who uses an iPhone, would sometimes send me text that took some time to get to me. There’s a lot of dead zones in Appalachia.
In a last ditch effort, I contacted her friend via Facebook messenger at about 3 or 4 my time. She was vague on the response but said I should try to contact Kerry around 10 a.m. I finally went to sleep around 5ish but when I tried to contact her again later that morning, I couldn’t get through. She had been sick with abdominal pain for a while. Pictures of her I had seen around Christmastime didn’t look too good. She had the shingles during the summer of 2021. We were trying to meet in Atlanta for my brother’s wedding. She was living near Orlando at the time and I was here near Tulsa.
I didn’t know she had moved to Bryson City, N.C. until the first part of December and had taken a job working for a non-profit charity organization connected to the church. I saw pictures on Facebook. I hadn’t heard much from her since August except a “Happy Birthday” text on my birthday and a “Thank you, dear Zane!” on a Facebook birthday post I made that she hearted. I don’t know what had happened but I had suspected something was bad.
In hindsight, I guess I could’ve tried to contact her at the business, but I didn’t want to do that. She needed time, I thought. People need time and space and you have to give it to them. I had a premonition during the early days of Covid-19 during the winter/spring of 2020 that something bad would happen. I even prayed to God for her safety and health and that didn’t amount to anything. After talking to her parents the Sunday after she passed, her father, who was a Methodist pastor, said a prayer. That was and will be the last time I will ever engage in any type of prayer. I did it for Kerry and for her parents.
As for myself, I don’t have time for God or prayer anymore. Because if there is a God, he is a cruel being. It was two years to the day that my ex left me. We had been together for about 18 years but the last few years had become very strained as her family treated me badly and my health got worse. When you take care of a loved one, you need help. There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it. It all makes a difference even if it’s a half day of someone just sitting with the person so you can go run errands without feeling rushed.
I loved Beverly, my ex. But it was getting harder on me every day as I constantly felt on edge. Every time, she went to the bathroom, I help. I helped her bathe. I made her meals and got her food. I helped her go to bed and I helped her get up. I also managed her medication schedule. I’m not saying this to get any brownie points or attention. I’m saying I did it because I wanted to do it. I had to do it. You take care of people when you’re in love.
Maybe that’s why Kerry kept her illness a secret. She didn’t want me to feel that that this was another relationship that I had to be the caretaker. But I would’ve gladly taken care of her to the end. There were times she was embarrassed to tell me things. She was constantly sick to her stomach. It seemed that from the very beginning when we got more series, she was always sick. She got pancreatitis in January of 2020, followed by pnuemonia in February, so that’s why I prayed. And for a while she got better, somewhat.
But there were times when she was depressed. She couldn’t talk. She didn’t want to talk. I don’t blame her. She had a lot to be depressed about. She had suffered years of abuse by her second husband. In the fall of 2016 more than a year after leaving him, she was attacked in Atlanta. There’s no such thing as a bad coincidence. I’m not insinuating anything and maybe the law enforcement investigated her ex and cleared him.
I know the attack and injury led to some problems later in her life. She was having seizures. That might explain why she was worried of driving long distances. When she left her second husband in the spring of 2015, her and her father were passing through Oklahoma and she wanted to stop. I wish she had. But I understood why she didn’t or couldn’t. I also understood why she couldn’t come to see me, seizures or not. In Oklahoma, her furbaby died while they were on the road. Many places have bad memories. It’s best not to go there.
I never know what someone is thinking. I may have not have been the best partner for her at the time. I’m waiting on my disability claim to go through. This house is hundreds of miles away from her friends and family. Yet, Kerry was no stranger to making new friends. But sadly, many of those friends are left with the same questions and memories of better days.
It was a long day and I realized that not only was Feb. 3 the day Beverly moved out, it was also the same day I hurt my back. A blizzard had come through on Feb. 1, 2011 and there was a small beagle that had been hanging around because I had my own beagle, Barney, at the time. It got cold and there were many inches of snow. Ironically, winter weather always plays a factor in every Feb. 3. A snow storm had come through overnight and in the early morning of Feb. 3, 2022.
There had been snow for two days as most of the snow had ended on the afternoon of Feb. 1, 2011. But the cold temperatures and snow were covering the steps on my porch. Looking back, I should’ve just lept from the porch and left the snow cushion my feet. The beagle had been brought in but everytime he went out to do his business, he would go around to a dog carrier on the side porch of the house. I didn’t want to run a heating pad on an extension cord but I didn’t want him freezing, so I brought him in the house, even though he stunk badly.
So, I went to go get him to lead him inside and slipped on the steps, hitting my tailbone. I was stunned for several minutes. But I got up. And I got him in. I took some Tylenol but my back was never the same again. I have been seeing an orthopedic doctor for 12 years. And as for the beagle, he stayed around until it warmed up and around the end of February or March of that year, he was gone. I never saw him again.
It’s crazy how one thing changes just like that. Could I have lasted longer with Beverly if I didn’t have these health issues? Would I have gotten a better job to hire a caretaker? I don’t want to reveal too much about what happened because there are some wounds you shouldn’t reopen. But it was the waiting, the long hours on this day a year ago that ticked away that hurt. I talked with friends almost all day through texts and phone calls.
Finally, after eating something and trying to keep busy by doing the dishes, I had one text message. I knew what it meant, so I just finished what I did and looked at it. It was from my friend, Gardner, who I had known since we were little kids. He also was a close friend to Kerry and I even think he loved her just as much as I did. It’s one of the reasons I never asked her out in high school. There were others. I was afraid of being rejected. And there were other problems in my personal and education life that i didn’t want to drag her into.
He had said that he had heard Kerry had passed if I didn’t already know. His mother had been in contact with Kerry’s mother through Facebook messenger I wish I had contacted her mother earlier but it didn’t look like she had any activity for a while. But I think it was because I didn’t want to know the answers. I kept telling myself it wasn’t happening.
Yet, it did. Kerry was gone. And with her, went everything I hoped we could do together. We had talked about it at once. It would’ve been a great story. We meet as kids at 14 and then realize at 41 we are in love with each other. Gardner had told me about her during the summer of 1993 when her family moved to my hometown. On the first day of school, we had gone to an assembly and there she was sitting a few hours in front of me. She was so pretty. But she looked so scared as her family had moved around a lot.
For a while in 2020, we would talk for hours. We talked about when we would finally get together. But the pandemic and some other issues kept us apart physically. I will probably never forgive any of the Covid deniers and all the people who had to have their hair or nails done. Our government failed us. On the flip side, Covid was the deciding factor in what kept Donald Trump from being re-elected. It’s crazy that way.
I also talked to Beverly that night for about an hour after Kerry died. I know it sounds crazy but Kerry and Beverly had a relationship as they often communicated on social media, whenever Beverly was in the hospital, which was a lot. Kerry loved Beverly. Unfortunately, we’re told not to behave like that. I still talk to Beverly three years later. There’s no reason to be mad at someone because of other people. There were times when I was really worried about Beverly and Kerry was always there to comfort me. And now, Beverly was there to comfort me.
I try not to be angry, but I am. I mad that someone who survived so much couldn’t have lived a longer life while so many awful people who treated her bad are still alive. Worse, they see absolutely nothing wrong with their behavior. That’s kinda why I will never return to my hometown of Calhoun, Ga. but one more time when my mother passes to settle things. They say you shouldn’t hate people because it tears you up inside. Well, why should I like people who have always hated me. It’s best to avoid people you don’t ever want to see again, not live within a few miles of them for the rest of your life.
I’m a Zen Buddhist Pacifist but I don’t know what I would do if I ever see some of these people again. They say survival is the best revenge, but she didn’t get to survive enough. She did so much for so many people. And yet, we as a society only hoist people up who screw up and cause problems.
If you could please make a donation to Wheels of Happiness, one of the organizations she was involved with at http://www.wheelsofhappiness.org or donate to http://www.restorationhousewnc.org.
Or please donate to any women’s shelter or family domestic abuse awareness organization in your area. Also, contact your legislators on pushing laws that keep many domestic abusers from getting away with their crimes. If child sexual predators have to register, then so do those who are convicted of domestic violence.
What do you think? Please comment.