Paul House. Paul and I went to elementary, junior, & high schools together. We started out as enemies, and then one day 7th grade history class he stopped by my desk and dropped a bunch of photos from a wrestling card on my desk and said, "I heard you like wrestling. Thought you might want these." We were friends from then on.
Paul used to borrow money from me, five or ten or twenty-five cents at a time. Never paid any of it back. Once while giving a presentation in a class in high school, I told him if he wasn't quiet I was going to go down the hall and tell his mother (she was the counselors' secretary) about all the money he owed me. He shut up.
He went punk in high school. Spiked/dyed hair, dog collars, chains, etc. Used to stand around downtown and scare the crap out of the tourists. I used to tease him about panhandling, because they would sort of throw money at him and then run in terror. (Mind you, he did nothing to prompt this.)
We had Marine Biology & Ecology together in 11th grade. He was class clown, always. He'd wait til the teacher's back was turned & then put on a skirt and dance around at his desk. He once got into an argument with one of the vice principals over wearing a dress to school. VP said it was against the dress code; Paul defied him to point it out (because, of course, it wasn't). This was his way of standing up for our friend Mark, who was being harassed for being gay.
He played baseball until he blew out his knee junior year.
I had no classes with him senior year. We ran into each other at the vending machines. He was on crutches again. I asked why. "Poodles. Really big poodles." He'd tripped over his dog rollerblading & broke his leg.
In late September, he, his girlfriend, his best friend, & his best friend's girlfriend were out celebrating his 18th birthday. His mother hadn't let him get a driver's license because she knew he'd be a dangerous driver. She was right. He was driving Melissa's car. Hit a light pole going 60mph (on a road with a 30mph speed limit).
I was at my father's listening to the news. Heard his name. Looked up, saw the remains of the car. Said to myself, surely there is another Paul House in this city. Then they named the sole survivor. There is not another Hilario Cisneros in this city. I called Mark to ask him if it was true. He said it was. My father found me huddled on the closet floor screaming.
I had thought Paul and I would always be friends. I had expected our kids to go to school together like we did. I did not realize how big a part of my life and expectations for the future he was, until he was gone.
This was when I discovered that pain from a death does not end. It only lessens with the years, and sometimes it will jump up out of nowhere and whack you over the head. Each new baby brought sadness that Paul will not have kids. I think of him every time I hear the Kenny Chesney song Who You'd be Today. "I wonder, what would you name your babies?"
If I ever have a son, his middle name will be Paul.
Micaela Rose Drysdale: My brother got married in 2000, about a year and a half after I did. He married a young woman in Indiana.
In 2003, they had a little girl. They named her Micaela Rose, the name Peter had always wanted to give his daughter. He sent me a photograph of her next to a 1-liter soda bottle; she was roughly that length. (If memory serves, his wife was induced about 3 weeks early due to preeclampsia.) She was a sweet little baby.
She started walking at nine months. When she was a little over a year old, he and I started discussing potty training, because she was going in to the bathroom every time he did and wanting to use the potty.
One day when she was 18 months old, he called me. Shaken. Scared. Micaela had suddenly started walking into walls, she couldn't stand. They took her to the emergency room. That hospital transferred them to another, one with a pediatric neurosurgeon. The answer was fast. She had a tumor on her brain. Cancerous.
And so Pete slipped into every parent's nightmare. She was transferred to Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis. Her tumor was reduced to the size of a pea. She'd probably be okay like that, the doctors said, but they wanted to do one more round of chemotherapy, an experimental type, to make sure.
She turned two on 13th August, hooked up to life support because the new treatment had sent her into liver failure. Fluid built up. Drugs to address this were not given in time.
She died the day before my birthday, not even a week after turning two. I never got to meet her, never got to hold her. My brother had his world yanked away. He was a wonderful dad (is a wonderful step-dad now, to his new wife's two kids). Some things are incomprehensible.
Douglas David Drysdale: My uncle. My Dad, really. He put that much effort into raising me when I was a kid. He's the one for whom words fail me. He died 36 hours before Micaela did, complications from Type 1 Diabetes. I have never really been able to grieve for him. I miss him more than I can truly explain. Only Bobbie got to meet him, and she was 4 months old. But they will all have to grow up without him. There's the gigantic, gaping hole thing again. When I was pregnant this last time, Rob & I discussed naming the baby, should it be a boy, Connor. (Bobbie would have been Douglas had she been a boy.) David couldn't have kids, because of the diabetes, but he said if he had a son, he would have named him Connor. He was a nerd before such things were cool. I'm smart because of him; he taught me how to think and to question everything.