It's been about 11 months since I posted anything on here, not because I haven't had anything to say but because in all the hustle and bustle I forgot about this blog. I know I'm a horrible person who should be drawn and quartered, but let me explain. Since the new Sheriff and Warden have taken over my responsibilities have grown. We are trying to bring the jail into the 21st century, it's a daily battle though. It's like the jail itself is a living breathing entity resisting any change. A real uphill battle all the way, but one we will win! Especially since the Sheriff got us approved to build us a new jail, which we should be in by this time next year!!!!
Second, we are currently buying our first home. After 2 years of phone calls and negotiating we finally moved into the house we've always wanted. My oldest daughter graduated, my middle daughter ran away! I don't know I give up trying to figure out the female hormone. And this past weekend I made a trip back home to Texas, to bury a Brother/Best friend.
I guess that's what got me thinking about this blog again. It had been a number of years since I saw my buddy Mitch, I have spoken with him on the phone and we always would finish up with "Man we need to get back together and party again"! Always one of us would have an excuse as to why we couldn't do it right then, money, work, kids, school, you name it we said it. Then one day I get a call from an old friend, giving me the dreadful news. I immediately call the third musketeer in California and pass the dreadful news on the him. Everyone thought he would take it better coming from me since we were all so close. Well lets just say he didn't take it any better and it sucked on a vast majority of levels having to tell one of my best friends that another of our best friends has passed on!
So, early Thursday myself and the wife struck out for Texas to go to the memorial service and viewing.
The trip was pretty uneventful until we got just about 10 minutes of our destination. The closer we got the more real it was finally appearing to me, my buddy's gone.....FOREVER! We make it to our hotel and check in, then set out on the tasks of showering and trying to look presentable after our trip. I called my friends to let them know we made it and are in town, and we decide to go eat supper before we go to the funeral home. After supper we finally decide to stop putting off the inevitable and go pay our respects to Mitch and his family. We park and as I'm walking up I see many faces from my past the all look at me like they've seen a ghost, and it's me. Then I get the feeling of it's been 25 plus years since you've set foot in this town and you think these people are just gonna welcome you with open arms? My wife who is always super-intuitive feels my trepidation and gently squeezes my hand reassuringly, as if to say "I'm with you, you need this and so help me god if one person here so much as looks at you cross I'll rip their face off"!
With her there and hand in hand we walk in and sign the visitors book and as I'm getting ready to go view the body I freeze! I can't go up to that casket and look at the vessel my friend was in. So I turn around and go back outside and find the group we use to hang out with when we were kids. Hugs go around for all the tears and "oh how I've missed you, what have you been doing"? All this time in the back of my mind is I have got to go up to that casket and see my friend. After what seemed like an eternity of standing outside I finally decide to buck up and put on my big boy undies on and go see my friend. After making the decision I think to myself and kinda smile that if Mitch were here now he'd call me a big puss and probably punch me in the arm for crying over him. I found his mother and hugged her hard enough to make up for the last 25 years away and introduce her to my wife. Then it's time, I approach the casket and look at the body of my friend. Then I know he is truly gone, he didn't look like he was asleep, he didn't look like he was peaceful or any of the other garbage people say at funerals. The body looked hollow and empty, and I got angry not at my friend or his family or even the mortician that prepared the body. I got angry with me for having waited that long to make the time to go back and see him and the fact that it took a funeral to get me there!
We exited the funeral home and went back out to our group, and decide that tonight we celebrate Mitch.
so that's exactly what we did, we drank and sang and told stories and remembered not painfully but thankfully. Thankful to have known him and that he touched our lives. Thankful that we will always carry those memories with us that we made with him, and knowing that even if we share those memories with others they are still ours and belong to nobody but us!!! That night we drank too much, sang to loud, partied to the wee hours of the morning and dared anyone to tell us anything about how we did it! Then we went home for the night, feeling no pain. I'm not referring to the fact we were highly intoxicated, I'm referring to the fact that fellowship and remembrance eased the pain if only for the night.
The next morning my wife and I get up, very slowly due to the horrible hang overs we both have and prepare for the rest of the day. We shower dress and check out of the hotel, then go get us something to eat before we go to the service. As I arrived at the service I see the amount of vehicles in the parking lot and the number of people trying to squeeze into the funeral home, and I realized Mitch didn't just touch our small group deeply. He had a profound impact of hundreds of people that all showed up to pay their final respects. As we entered the service it was standing room only everywhere you looked. The pastor spoke from the heart and brought tears when he spoke of Mitch and the love he had for his friends and family. At the conclusion of the service I was not only proud to have known Mitch, but also a little jealous of him. Right now he is sitting up in heaven looking down on us and I know I have one more angel watching out for me.
I can honestly say that when I go I hope I leave such a good impression and profound impact on all the lives that I have came in contact with. I don't want anyone wondering how I felt for them or what I'd do for them. In closing I want to leave you with one of my favorite quotes I think it sums up Mitch's life and how we should try to live ours, "People are often unreasonable and self centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be kind anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it ma never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it's between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway." Mother Teresa. You see if you do all these things, you will leave that impression that Mitch left. So I guess what I'm trying to say with all of this is make time for the people that have meaning in your life, tomorrow is not a guarantee. Goodbye Mitchell Harvey West, I love you and will see you again one day.