The Longest Month in the World: January 2018
January 2018 was a rough month. It felt as though it would never end. A month prior I had decided that it was time to leave Kaua’i. It wasn’t what I expected and the sacrifice’s I had to make to live wasn’t worth it (to me).
As some of the world knows, Hawaii received a ballistic missile threat stating it was not a drill and to take shelter. I woke up to that text and ran out of bed and saw my aunt pacing and panicking. We heard that we had 15 minutes before it was supposed to strike. Panic set in and my first thought was to hop on a plane and leave. I had to get off the island and get far away. The next thought I had, I realized that planes won’t take off if there is a missile on its way over. What if it collides with the flight?! My third thought was that I didn’t have money on my card to buy a flight. We began opening and closing windows, running around in circles and up and down the stairs. Inside and outside, we covered every inch of the house and driveway, and generally freaking out. My aunt wanted to go next door to where her daughter and her two kiddos were. She said we had to stay together, but I wanted to be alone. I didn’t call my mom because I didn’t want the missile to hit and have her hear me die. I tried my hardest to remain calm. Naturally, my next step was to check the news to see what was being said. It was eerily quiet. The news wasn’t reporting anything at all. That was scary in itself, because we all assumed it was from North Korea, and why wasn’t anyone picking up the fact that there is a missile HEADING STRAIGHT FOR HAWAII?! I sent my friend a text asking him to check the news because ours wasn’t saying anything. We were still saying we had 15 minutes and slowly we began to realize that nothing was really adding up. My friend said that if a ballistic missile was to hit, we wouldn’t even know it. He told us to continue our lives as if we didn’t even know about it. In my head I imagined a Looney Tunes cartoon of where a missile hits the mountains and just doesn’t explode. Finally the news came on and said it WAS A MISTAKE. WTF. What in the actual Fuck?! Those 15 minutes were the longest of my life because it was actually 37 minutes from when the text went out until someone realized their mistake. I called my mom and started crying and told her what had just happened. I am thankful to be alive and thankful it was a mistake but … get it together Hawaii!! After that, I felt scared and uneasy. I kept waiting for a bomb to drop and I would melt like in the beginning of Terminator. I was scared.
A week after the missile threat, I woke up to an alarming amount of texts and phone calls from my friend, Lauren who is in Dallas. My stomach dropped as I called her back and asked what was going on. Her voice was low and scratchy, like she hasn’t slept and was crying. She asked if I was sitting down and gently told me that one of our favorite people had committed suicide the night before. The air was sucked from my lungs and I immediately began crying and laughing. It must be a joke, a very cruel one. Occasionally I laugh at very inappropriate times. This was one of them. I talked with Lauren for a bit more and then I felt like the walls were closing in on me. I told my aunt and uncle what had happened, and got in my car, and drove to the nearest bar. Luckily the liquor laws are friendly on Kauai, and I was able to get a shot immediately. The hostess (who was the manager) sat with me while I talked and cried, brought me toast, and hugged me until I could finally breathe. How could our wonderful, crazy, insane, Zachary do this? That day was spent with tears, vodka, and many phone calls. I felt trapped on Kauai. The invisible walls were closing in on me and I couldn’t fully take a breath. I wasn’t with my people and felt very alone and far away. I wasn’t able to drive to our old work and gather with everyone who was hurting and in shock. Thankfully my work is amazing and let me take time off right away. Once I heard when the viewing was, I was able to buy a flight within a few days and head back to Dallas.
When I arrived (the day before the viewing of Zach), Lauren was sick. It was during the stomach flu season, and I kept my distance because I didn’t want to catch the flu on the flight. It was a somber moment for all of us, and we couldn’t even be happy to see each other because our hearts were completely shattered. The day of the viewing, I saw Cody (Lauren’s fiance, our bar manager, and amazing friend), but he had said Lauren wasn’t feeling well. Figured seeing Zach in the casket would be too much for her – rightfully so. She had to stay strong for the funeral – the day we were all dreading. The morning of the funeral, I had turned off my phone instead of silencing it and when I turned it back on, I had a text from Cody that Lauren was in the emergency room and unresponsive. I called him back and asked if there was anything I could do for him and he said no. The rest of the funeral party for Zach went to a restaurant and we all began drinking “Zach Shots” (warm Titos Vodka and a splash of cranberry juice) and forced some food. Around 2pm, everyone had gone home for naps and I was with Zach’s current lady friend, Ericka. (funny story on how she met Zach, press here). We talked, laughed, shared stories, and had shots. We recieved the phone call that Lauren isn’t doing well. Cody said to not come by the hospital, but we ignored him and took an Uber to the hospital and waited in the waiting room with Cody while Lauren had a full body dialysis.
Realizing this was way more serious than we thought, I sent a message to a close friend. We put Lauren on every prayer circle and began praying for her, sending her positive energy and love. We did anything we possibly could to send her the strength to get through. To come back, to regain conciousness, and to wake up. The nurses were saying she might come back but with severe brain damage and might not be the same person. We left the hospital for a little bit – took a break and we had some time to waste while she continued her dialysis. We met up with a few people from Zach’s funeral at a local bar and forced Cody to eat a little bit. We started laughing and joking and telling funny Lauren stories. I looked down at my ankle to see a raw, red rash from where my boots had rubbed my skin. As I looked at my outfit, I realized I was still in funeral clothes from this morning. I felt uneasy and there was a strange buzz in my ears. Nothing seemed real. Everything was off and once again, the familiar feelings of being suffocated came back. We got the text to come back to the hospital. We bailed without paying our tab and rushed to the hospital. As I grabbed my back pack that I had been lugging around for a few days, in the boots from this morning, I had a strange feeling of despair. I couldn’t take another step towards that hospital. My world was crashing down around me and there wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop it. I summoned the strength to push on, ran through those doors, past security, and rode up that elevator only to walk into a room of sadness. Lauren was lying on the hospital bed, her eyes were closed, and her beautiful blue hair was across the pillow. She had a breathing tube in her mouth, and she looked like she was just snoozing.
Lauren did not make it.
The rest was a blur. I hugged everyone, cried, and wandered downstairs and began making phone calls. I heard of people going into shock and just going through the motions. Called my mom and got a ticket home to California. I needed to get away, hide, and process what exactly just happened
I went to Texas to celebrate Zach’s life and wound up losing my best friend the same day. I left out a bunch of minor details – there is a haze that I don’t quite remember. A few of her mutual friends showed up to the hospital, we had people praying so hard, and for whatever reason, she decided to leave us that day. I canceled my flight back to Kauai and stood in front of the hospital with my backpack still dressed in the clothes from the funeral that morning. I called my mom and just cried and cried. I couldn’t fathom what just happened. Called Veronica to take me to Becky’s house and I pounded on the door till she opened it. She let me in, made me a bed on her couch, and took me to the airport the next morning. I hid in California for a few days. Wasn’t sure how to face the world – so I didn’t. When I got back to Dallas, it was a whirlwind all over again. We were planning another funeral. We had another shock to our system. We lost another beautiful person. I stayed in Dallas for close to 2 weeks. I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving my friends and going back to the island. I was petrified that if I left again, someone else would leave us.
January was the longest month of my life. One bad thing after another happened. The shock of so much loss was devastating. I lost interest in everything, just wanted to hide, and attempt to get through every day. Some days I was angry, others I couldn’t stop crying. Some days I was totally numb. Once I was back on Kauai, I had to go through the motions of getting ready to leave. To ship my car, pack my bags, enjoy the last bit of the island. Everything went from bright colors to a dull gray. I had lost my spark for life. Luckily I moved back in with my parents early February and just managed.
Today (5/20/2018) is Zach’s 4 month anniversary. Lauren’s is in a few days. It’s a struggle, but I realize the best way to get through this is to write, go on adventures, and work out. I had high hopes of this being a travel blog, but this is just a detour to my destination.
This is part of the Common Crew. We all went to Denver to see LCD Soundsystem. These are part of my human’s and I am so devastated that we are now missing two of them. Pict 1: L-R India, Jordan, Justin, Me, Lauren, Cody, Daisy, Zach.
Lesson of the Day:
LOVE YOUR FRIENDS. You never know when the last day will be. Love them while they are still here.