Take Me Somewhere Else
Death in my every day life doesn’t exist. Sure, I’ve had someone in my life die once a decade or so. Lately, though, the deaths are coming faster and are becoming more common. So much so that I’m actually getting used to saying “good bye” and “rest in peace”.
We just had another friend die a few days ago. Jimmy was around 37 or 38 years old. I don’t know which. We had known him for a good ten years. On his worst days – he was obnoxious. He would stop by and fill us in on all his troubles and how people were screwing him over all the while he would drink up every bit of liquor we had in our apartment. He was also always (ALWAYS!) on some sort of pill or drug. It was never my business to know what this grown man had in his system. I just knew that he wouldn’t be in our presence for longer than an hour and then he’d be on his way…usually after he consumed all the alcohol.
He had a drug problem. And an alcohol problem. He didn’t see it as a “problem”. He saw it as a way to cope with the wrong choices he was consistently making. He seeded children with the women that weren’t right for him and was therefore forced to supply child support. He chose the wrong jobs, the wrong friends, the wrong everything. And he would tell us about how wrong he was and how he could’ve done better. Yet he would never strive to do better or choose better. He blanketed his decisions with pills and alcohol. It was none of my business to judge him – so we gave him plenty of room to complain and drink.
There were days where I DID let my opinions be known. He knew I would reach my limit with his complaining and then he would hear what I had to say. He said he appreciated my being honest with him, yet he continued to drink and pop pills. It wasn’t until the last few months I noticed he would show up at our place with bumps all over his face. Since he was in the tree business – he would try to convince me that the bumps on his face were from ant bites he had received while cutting trees. I, however, am not a total blonde. I knew from past experience with friends who had shot up heroine, and the way he acted when he was on whatever it was he shot up on, that the dude was shooting up some serious drugs. He never would admit it until the last few months. And then he tried to explain to me his reasoning for shooting up these drugs. I’m not his mother or his father – nor any of his family members. I really didn’t have a say in how he conducted himself on a daily basis. I handle my issues MY way – he handles his issues HIS way.
The avenue he chose to handle his issues has caused his death according to his girlfriend who called us to say that he had overdosed and died.
He should’ve chose better. He should’ve lived better. I told him months ago that I would be offering a eulogy at his funeral. He laughed, I laughed. Little did we know that I was foretelling the not-so-distant future.
Jimmy was a story teller. There was always an hour-long story on how he wrecked his truck (usually alcohol related) or how someone had robbed him (drug related) or how he was fighting with the current girlfriend (drug AND alcohol related). He would argue with his girlfriend over the phone in our apartment after he had barged in on our quiet evening. He would spend the night because the girlfriend had kicked him out. To be honest…I could only take fifteen minute increments of Jimmy at a time. He was Tim’s friend mainly because I couldn’t deal with the stories or the constantly alcohol consumption. I know a few people who drink, but Jimmy was the Mayor of Drunk Town. I do not drink and cannot tolerate being around those who feel that’s the only way they can survive a crisis.
I admit that I was a bad friend at times. I would yell at the guy and he would actually cry and tell me he was sorry even though I never asked for him to do that. I am an asshole most times – but I am empathetic. We remained friends for a decade because of my empathy toward his troubles that would NEVER have been my troubles because I would never let anyone do the the shenanigans people did to him. He acted tough, and talked tough, but he was a complete sucker. Jimmy was the perfect example where his bark was extremely bigger than his bite. Mainly because he had no bite. It was all bark.
I used to be amazed (AMAZED!) at how much alcohol he could drink. I witnessed his sucking down a complete bottle of Crown Royal in one sitting. And I know he mixed that alcohol with whatever pain pills he was ingesting on an hourly basis. He would do math right in front of me. Each pain killer was 10 milligrams but his pain required more than that so he would take 5 because his level of pain at the time would require 50 milligrams of relief. I did nothing to stop him or slow him down. I just shook my head, told Tim that Jimmy was his friend, and then head upstairs where I could be away from the insanity for an hour or so.
But for all my assholery – Jimmy liked me. And I liked him. There is a decade of history there. Jimmy was colorful. There really wasn’t a dull moment when he was in the house. We were polar opposites. From our politics, our thoughts on climate change, and the way we conduct our love lives. Jimmy thought the Earth is flat – I thought otherwise. Jimmy would try to educate me on how a woman likes to be handled under the sheets. I desperately tried not to have those conversations. But somehow we were friends. And he was loyal. I know for a fact that if I had a problem with someone then Jimmy would have my back. He was tall and had this intimidating redneck quality about him even his demeanor would be contradictory. He would attempt to be a “good ol’ boy” all the time wearing clothes of a yuppie. The cloud of cologne that surrounded him would linger in our apartment for hours after he left. He had more hair cuts in one month than I have had in my entire life. He had manicures and pedicures. I have NEVER had a manicure or a pedicure. We would joke that he was secretly gay and then he’d attempt to justify his sexuality by describing his sexual appetite with his girlfriend. Good times.
Apparently he had bad times. But those days are now over. All of his struggles and hardships were for what? He’s free now. All of those that he insisted were beating him down was for what purpose? He continued to grasp the good things – like cars, girlfriends, houses, and alcohol. He fought for them. Worked hard to get them. Harder than I ever would have fought for anything. Why? Why would he work so hard if all he was going to do was end it all and then all that fighting, all that bullshitting, all that talk, all that alcohol, all those pills, all that heartache, all that pain was for nothing?
I’m going to miss the guy. He had become a part of our household. He was our absent roommate. He had his own glasses to drink from, the ice cubes in the freezer were his, he would go into the fridge to grab food, or snag the Slim Jim off the kitchen counter that I had bought for the dogs and just chow down. We never confronted him because he always had free reign here. He didn’t need an invitation to stop by – he just would pop in. He never needed to ask if he could spend the night because he knew he could. Tim and I would adjust our plans to accommodate Jimmy. Because we loved the guy and we knew he loved us because he would make sure to say he loved us every single visit. And it wasn’t just something to say. He would make us stop what we were doing to look us in the eye and tell us he loved us. It wasn’t a homo thing at all. It was one human alerting another human that they matter. And yes, even though Jimmy had his faults it took only one admission of appreciation that would sugar coat anything he may have done in that past hour. I’m truly going to miss the tornado known as Jimmy Hendricks.
Rest in peace, man. You’ve earned the serenity.