I’ve forgotten how long it’s been since Clay died, but I don’t think that is so weird. I’m pretty sure it has been 8 years. Jamie was a baby, I remember that. I remember a lot of things from that weekend and I have forgotten a lot, too. I remember the sprinklers running on LCSC campus and kids running through them. Not kids, young adults. My age. I remember wondering how they could be so happy. Something terrible has happened.
I remember calling people trying to figure out if this awful rumor I’d just heard was true. And then receiving a phone call from one of Clay’s family friends, letting us know that it was.
I remember losing it. I remember having a hard time breathing and I remember calling Clay’s phone over and over and looking at our last text conversation for a really long time. I remember talking to my mom and then later one of my best friends coming by. I remember Pat sitting with the kids and going to Albertsons to get ice cream because I just needed to be doing something. I think of that day often, not just on this anniversary. And I think of how often that day must replay for other people, too. I’m sorry.
I remember Clay. I remember him smiling and hugging and being so damn happy. I remember him struggling, too, but that was a smaller part of his big picture. I remember how he loved people, genuinely. I remember being his best friend but most definitely not his only one. I think he probably had 100 true, genuine, best friends. I remember him thinking his brother was the most important person on Earth and loving his parents something fierce. He’d play his guitar or draw or play video games or watch Seinfeld and The Simpsons.
I miss things that haven’t even happened. I miss calling him and telling him the most hilarious thing Jamie said. He’d have gut rolled when I told him that Jamie rick rolled Dan and I last night. He would have suggested we party when I told him Alice read an entire book by himself. He might have been late, but he would have come to watch Maria dance. He would (try to) teach Charlotte guitar and Ollie would make him smile and Francesca would probably bring him book after book to read — and he’d read them.
I see his beautiful niece and nephew and I see him in them. He loves them, I know. I think of his mom so often and I hope she can feel it. His dad and brother, too.
These kinds of posts always turn into “look at me and how sad I am” and then I instantly regret writing them. But I don’t want the post to sound like that and I don’t mean for it to at all. Am I sad? Absolutely. But I write them to also celebrate who he was and who Clay has helped me to be. It’s like a reflective journal entry, but my journal is my blog. I’ve tried to be more like Clay since the day I met him. He’s influenced me in the way I treat people and how I think before I judge. He’s played a part in the way we raise our children. He still makes us laugh and I’m softer because of Clay. He’s a part of my kids’ lives. A few weeks ago, Charlotte was using a toilet paper tube and was looking up at the sky and said, “I’m looking all the way up into the clouds, to Clay!” She never met him, but she knows he’s important. She knows he’s worth mentioning and he’s a part of us. He’s included in our conversations quite often and not in a sad way.
If you never met Clay, let me introduce you. That little kid who is always making you laugh? That’s Clay. That huge smile and giant hug is Clay. The song that is sung with passion and heart and so much emotion, whether funny or serious….that is Clay. The person you see who is struggling but wants nothing more than make things right is Clay. Your friend with the most genuine heart and best intentions.
❤ to Connie and John and Jordan and Fran and E and J. Life is really hard. It’s unfair for sure. It’s beautiful, too, and I think Clay is to thank for lots of that. ❤