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It was finally here. As much as I didn’t want it to be, it was. It was Thursday, the day of Sean’s wake.

I remember everything as if it had happened yesterday. It was the Monday after spring break; I was sitting on my bed just messing around on the Internet when I got a tweet from one of my former classmates from high school.

WTF? RIP Sean L & Andrew M

I just sat there. What did she mean by that? Andrew wasn’t dead, let alone Sean. After a quick few moments I logged onto Facebook to find out what was going on, I went onto Sean’s profile and there on his Wall after a dozen “Happy Birthday!” messages  was the first sign that something wasn’t right.

Are you ok? Please call me as soon as you get this.

After that his wall was flooded with people writing about how they couldn’t believe how their beloved Sean was no longer among of the living. I had grown up with Sean, he had been a close friend of mine since we met in the 4th grade, all the way back in 2000. We had been in the marching band together, been in classes together, went to the premiere of the first Harry Potter movie together. And now he was gone. No, not just him. His sister Jessica, her best friend Kelly, and Sean’s best friend Andrew were also killed in the car accident. Sean’s parents lost both of their children on the same day.

The next few days flew by in numb haze, the world feeling off without Sean in it. On Thursday I drove home for the wake and on Friday was the funeral. I don’t remember much of the drive from Orlando to Sarasota, but the first thing I did when I arrived home was to drive to the wreck site. The SUV they were in that morning had collided into a wall, destroying everything in its path. The ground around the pile of rubble that was once a wall was covered in candles and photographs of the deceased, their grinning faces was a terrible reminder of what would never be seen again.

When I finally pulled up to the funeral home, the line to see Sean and Jessica was out the door. This didn’t shock me because it was impossible to not like Sean. He was the best friend anyone could have ever asked for. My sharpest memory of that day was how Sean looked in his casket. Sean lying there in his favorite shirt and Hollister Jeans, but it wasn’t his face. The mortician had done his/her best to reconstruct the badly damaged body, but Sean was obviously not right. The right side of his face where he had slammed into the steering wheel was almost inhumanly smooth.

I reached out and held his cold hand and begged to all gods that had ever been worshiped on this planet that this wouldn’t be the last time, that this was just a cruel nightmare. That Sean was still alive and that I would see him tomorrow with that stupid lopsided grin on his face. But I knew that I would never see him again. My world collapsed around me as my vision was blurred by tears, it finally sank in that he was dead.

 

It’s been 1 year today, and I miss you guys like crazy. RIP Sean Leonard, Jessica Leonard, Andrew Monroe, and Kelly Janis.

Happy Birthday, Sean. I will always love you.