An Amazing Person

January 23, 2012
By , Carthage, NC
I met an amazing person named Beth over band camp before my junior year of high school. She and I grew so close in just one day that it was like I could see through her eyes and into her heart by sunset. I felt the type of friendship that is so rare in this world that I knew it would lead one of two places- love or kinship. Band camp was a week long (we were away, not staying at our houses, so we had a LOT of time together) and by the end of it Beth and I might as well have been going out. We weren’t, but the only thing we were missing was the title of boyfriend and girlfriend.
We went on a date to the movies shortly after getting back from camp, and the only request was that I come over and meet him. I readily agreed, and so we were off. At her house, I met her father and his best friend. Honestly? Parents don’t make me feel weird. I know some guys are all nervous and stuff, and others try to pretend they are not and just end up looking stupid, but parents don’t bother me a bit. He point blank told me he would “Stomp your *** if you hurt my baby girl” and then invited me to sit and enjoy the game for a few minutes while we waited on the girls to finish getting ready. It was equally the most thrilling and the most terrifying moment of my dating history until that point.
I came over to her house a few times after that, always seeing him there. He was never rude or mean or even suspicious of me. He treated me like an equal, like a man, and we got along great. The third or fourth time I was over there, I asked permission to ask her out. Call it old fashioned if you will, but I had enough respect for him as a man to ask. He had invited his best friend out with us, so the best friend heard the conversation. He looked me in the eyes and said, “I think you are a fine young man. I see the respect you treat my daughters and my wife with, and I see the respect you treat me with. I have talked with Ben and Tammy about it, and they agree with my decision to consent. I will go so far as to say that if you two decide to have sex, then that is your choice. But I remind you that if you hurt my baby I will stomp your ***.” He then went on to tell me about how he had beaten a guy to a pulp for hurting Beth (he hurt her in ways I can’t explain). Also, he told me how much weight Ben’s opinion carried- he told me that “If, God forbid, something were to happen to Tammy and me, Ben would get custody of the kids.” At the end of this conversation, he looked me in the eyes, and, less than one week after meeting me, said, “I love you son.”
On was August 17, I was mowing the grass. Beth and I had talked about getting together that evening (it was around 6ish) and so when she called I thought that she was going to be making plans for us to hang out. She said "Kal... I don't think I am going to be able to hang out any tonight... Daddy's been in a car wreck" I didn't understand at first, I thought she just meant a little "Dam nit" type thing... She NEVER cries... But I heard the tears in her voice, and that's when I figured it out. She said that the hospital had called and told "Mamma" to get up there right away... They didn't know anything else and she hadn't called back.
I begged off my dad for a ride, and he took me to her house (it's like two miles from where I live). I got there, and her aunt and the aunt’s boy friend were there... I could see the worry on their face's, but they didn't cry cause she has a little (like 6 at the time) sister and a brother (12 or 13). So they pretended to be strong. Beth pulled me back to her room, which is saying something because she is such a strong person that she hardly asks for help either... I asked if they knew any more, but they didn't. I wrapped my arms around her, and we hugged for a long time. When she pulled away, I noticed one tear track on her cheek and my shirt, but I pretended otherwise (again, she hates feeling needy or crying). I kissed her forehead, and then I had to leave.
I didn't see her again until a few days later, but we talked on the phone pretty much constantly.... I knew at the time that he was dead, it's just a feeling you get... But we held out hope. Then, on the 19th, after I got my hair cut I called her. She seemed fine, which scared the **** out of me. She didn't sound worried at all, and I knew then, knew my hopes were in vain. She got some space from the kids and said, "We lost daddy. They are pulling him off the machines any minute now..." She didn't cry, but I could hear the hurt in her voice. Since she didn't cry, I didn't either. I felt so bad (he was the first man I ever loved. I have been raped twice in my life, and so guys had nothing to do with me, and I with them, but for some reason in just over a week, he broke my walls and I loved him as a father) but she didn't cry so neither did I.

The funeral was the 24th of August, and Beth decided that she wanted me there. Out of all of her friends (and she has many) I was the only one she allowed to go to the funeral. I was not honored, for I knew how hurt she was to have asked me to go. I walked into the funeral home with them, I sat right there next to Beth on the second row (a slight breach of etiquette, but this is where I was told to sit) and not once during this time did I see her cry a single tear. Through the Prelude, the Opening Prayer, and the Serenity Prayer, she did not cry. Then, the time came for her mom to give Family Remarks. It was an incredibly sad story about a gravestone, followed by a warning. Her warning was, “He was on his way home from the grocery store. The entire trip was no more than ten miles there and back. When he died, he was less than a mile from home, so I want you all to remember this. Tell the people that you love every day how much you love them. Never leave home angry, because you never know if you will see them again. Thank you.” She sat back down for the playing of “Go Rest High Upon That Mountain,” and then she cried. As her mom broke down, so did Beth. I saw the tears, and those streaks down her face, more than the little box at the front with his ashes, more than the little sister crying and asking for her daddy, more than the song itself, those streaks destroyed me inside. To see someone so strong, so brave, and so full of life, brought down and crushed is something that I never will forget and I pray to God that I, nor anyone else, has to see it again.

So to those of you reading this, I thank you. I wrote this for two reasons. The first is that, even though it has been almost two years since his death, I am not okay. I miss him more than I admit to even myself, and I will not see him again on this Earth. Writing this was my way of moving on, hopefully, even though I will NEVER forget. The second is that I don’t want him to be forgotten. Even though I haven’t put his name until now, I want to leave you with that one last piece of information. The name of the man who broke through a heart of stone with three simple visits, whose love shone in a world of darkness, and who would stop at nothing to do right by his wife and children, was Phillip.





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