We got to Redding at some ungodly hour. It must have been after 2am. We had flown in a single engine plane that Bill had arranged.
It was cold and foggy. Typical for the Valley.
We couldn't find the cab that we were told would be there.
When we did, we had what seemed like a ride for forever to the hospital. I thought I had steeled myself. I thought I could handle seeing him. In a hospital bed with tubes.
But it was like seeing him when he was a kid in the stupid hospital bed at home. He had valley fever then. And there were no tubes then. And he woke up when I touched him. He would yell at me or ignore me then.
I wanted him to wake up and ignore me. Please.
So I held his hand, and I stroked his hair.
I talked to him.
I read to him.
And I sang to him. Danny Boy. The version that he hated, of course.
Maybe he would wake up and ignore me. Please.
And then others arrived and I stepped away from the side of his bed. They wanted to be there, too. And I wanted to scream. But I didn't.
I left. I had to go to work the next day. I could have stayed but now I knew he was gone and I didn't want to be part of the discussions.
I just wanted to be next to him. And I couldn't. It was not my place.
So, Melodie and I got on a train, And I stared at the bottom of her bunk. All night.
I couldn't cry. I couldn't move. I couldn't even think.
I just stared.
My best friend was gone and I could not bring him back.
Tonight I relive that 24 hours.
And I cry. Quietly.