There are a few chapters I have struggled with and have rewritten...multiple times. This is one of those chapters. A chapter about the death of a great friend. I cannot seem to capture Barry's spirit. So read this chapter with the knowledge that it is a work in progress.
This is for you Barry. I miss you everyday but today is always the hardest.
Aside from not being a good house keeper or being able to make an edible meal I have taken to domestic life like a duck out of water. I love being a wife and hopefully I will love being a mom as much. With the excitement of the wedding and honeymoon over, the real world and the rest of my life begins. Pretty much overnight I go from a fairly popular cheerleader, to a pregnant dredge of society with a total of one friend. In the spring of 1989 I would have told you I had a dozen friends to turn to when in trouble. In a sad reality late one July night I realize that Roy and I have lost all our friends. This is a hard pill to swallow at any age but at seventeen it is very sobering to think that my ‘friends’ were just my ‘friends’ until things got ugly. On second thought since Roy and I have one friend together we really only have half a friend each, that’s even sadder! I have half a friend, I’m married, and living on the wrong side of town. This is not the road I want to be on but I don’t know how to get on any other road. All I know is at seventeen I am all alone and this sucks.
Barry Davis was a fun-loving, lactose intolerant, color blind angel and our one friend. What Barry did for Roy and me during the first few months of our marriage cannot be measured. He kept me sane while Roy worked three jobs and I was alone in a bad neighborhood. Of course our family was around and I did a lot with them but they weren’t there at 11PM when Roy was still at work and there was a scary noise. I was still just a scared seventeen-year-old.
Barry would show up at our door in time for dinner. Roy would be working so Barry and I would eat something easy to fix since I couldn’t cook. Then Barry would be ‘too tired’ to drive home, two miles away! I would insist he slept on our couch. He would accept, and then we would put together a puzzle. After getting tired for telling him which pieces were green, blue, brown, etc I wrote the colors on notecards. I then separated the pieces into piles. Then it was fun to put together with Barry.
Barry stayed on our couch for weeks. Late at night I would say I’m going to bed. Barry would say he ‘I’m going to couch’. Twenty-three years later and 22 years after Barry’s death I still tell Roy ‘I am going to couch’ when I am going to bed.
Before Barry left for boot camp he told me that a baby’s first poop did not stink. After Rebecca was born and we named Barry her god-father, he asked if her poop stunk. We sent him, all the way to Alaska, Rebecca’s first poopy diaper wrapped in an airtight bag. We attached a note that said “does it smell?”, he did not think this was funny. He called in the middle of the night pissed and gagging from the smell.
It was cheaper to call Alaska then to call my sister, Cindy, in Atlanta. I called Barry a few times a week. Barry had smile that took over his face. He smiled to his soul. He was just a kid himself when he left for Alaska. He missed Savannah. He missed his family. He missed warm weather. He was unhappy and made poor decisions on how to handle his depression. While drinking one night, he left his car running in a closed garage. He died in a friend’s garage on a cool September night, alone. It was 22-years before Roy could talk about him without getting teary and years before he would even say his name. The day Barry left for boot camp broke my heart because I knew I would be alone again. The day he died my heart crumbled.
Barry was my first true experience in a true friend. Without asking this eighteen-year-old kid stepped up and said ‘I don’t know what to say but I am here if you need me’. I have carried this lesson with me and hopefully I am making him proud up in heaven. Sometimes friends do not know what to say or do. So they say or do nothing. Don’t be that friend.
Now as an adult I realizes that my friends did not leave me when I ended up pregnant and married at seventeen. I realize they had their lives and I was out of sight and out of mind, or they didn’t know how to handle the adult situation I was in, or their parents told them not to talk to me.