Friday, July 16, 2004

March 12th 2001

Me, Ben and Amanda (his girlfriend) all went to her house on that day and just sat around, blaring music and relaxing. A couple other friends came over to chill with us. As always, time passed quickly when having fun with my best friend. It soon became late and I called home to let Doug know I was on my way. As I heard him talking, all slurred speech and annoyed with me I was a bit worried he was going to rage on me when I got home. Always with the "guys and girls cant be friends without having sex" thing, he never really liked me going out with Ben, even though Ben and I worked together, hell, we ran the plant together. And I knew with him being drunk and angry with me it could be ugly when I got there. Ben seen the worried look on my face. "Im following you home." He had done this so many times for me I didn't even speak, just nodded and felt very grateful. He knew that Doug had been abusive to me in the past and would never have allowed himself to be the cause of that, if he had any control over it. Around midnight we got to my house. Ben and Amanda came in with me and we made some small talk with Doug. Ben was very imposing. He never outright threatened Doug but I could always tell in his stance when he was ready to rage if he had to. That night we discussed me, Ben and Amanda going out the next morning/afternoon. Ben was going to come pick me up so I wouldnt have to drive all the way to Roanoke again. We were going to be helping Amanda's brother pack and take him out for lunch for his last day in Roanoke for a while. He was going to be starting college soon and wanted to get to where he was going and settled in before he started in the fall, (and of course party on his new campus before he had to break down and work his ass off in school).  We agreed he would pick me up around noon. Always protecting me, Ben stayed until Doug actually went to bed.
He never ever harrassed me about being with Doug. He never told me I was stupid for staying. Oh, I was very stupid for staying, but he would have never said so. He only did what he could, protect me from Doug, and a bit from myself. Feeling safe with Doug asleep and secure knowing if something DID happen, Ben would swiftly come to my house and beat Dougs ass if he had to, I went to bed.
On the morning of March 13th 2001, Ben took Amanda's brother to wal-mart to get him some extra items he would need for the trip to school. Amanda stayed at home to wait for him to return so they could come get me. It was only Ben and Amanda's brother there that morning, so I suppose no one but those two know exactly what happened.... but I firmly believe he had been shooting that morning. He did keep his word to me by stopping the shooting for several months after our previous discussion the summer before, but he also hid from me the fact that he still did it from time to time. Almost home, there was a set of train tracks Ben had to cross at the end of Buck Mountain Road. Left to his house, right to Amanda's, A T shaped intersection with a stop sigh immediately after the tracks. Ben was superstitious a bit so whenever he crossed train tracks he lifted his feet from the floorboard of the car. You can NOT go more then 25 miles per hour over those tracks, or you would slam right into the phone pole or the house that sat at that top bar of the T intersection. Ben grew up here, he drove over these tracks for years and years. Somehow, crossing those tracks that morning, he went into the ditch. This ditch... it isnt deep enough to cover my head if I stood in it. Im five foot 3. And it isnt wide or long enough to fit a bus in. Somehow, Bens car went into this ditch. Flipping over, he was ejected from the car. The car landed on him. He did not die instantly, I dont know how long he lay there suffering, but Amanda's brother got out unscathed. And was there with Ben when he did pass. He would never really talk about the accident to anyone. Im sure it cut him deeply, and into silence.
Ben wrecking like that..... was amazing to me. This was a guy with whom him and I used to take breaks from work at Plastics One, right across those same tracks, and we would speed through the back roads of Southwest, and laugh at the danger of it. We even made a game out of trying to guess what pieces of his car flew off when we hit bumps too hard and seen pieces fly. Sure, thats stupid as hell, but thats the kind of relationship we had. He would push the limits, trying to scare me, and I would show him he couldnt. But wreck? He was an incredible driver. Wreck at 25 miles per hour. Impossible, unless you were nodding in and out of a heroin haze. No, he didnt overdose, and Amanda's brother said he was very awake when the car flipped. I'll never forget the call.
Around 11 am Amanda called me. I could hear the strain in her voice. It is like people say when something horrific happens, slow motion, surreal. "Joy, Ben wont be able to pick you up today." "That sucks, I was looking forward to it, why not what are you guys going to get into?" "Nothing Joy, Ben is dead." And thinking back on how cruel my next words to her must have seemed, I feel horrible. But I was so in denial, no way my angel was dead. Angels dont die. They live to protect those who need it. I needed it desperately. "Amanda, dont fuck with me like that, thats fucking sick." "Joy, Id never fuck with you about that or about Ben, hes dead Joy, hes gone, forever."
She broke down, I broke down, she told me how he had died and we hung up. I remember laying on my couch, saying over and over, silently at first, until I was screaming in between sobs, Bens dead...... Bens dead. At that very moment I wanted to be dead with him. Doug rushed in to see what I was screaming about. Once he heard, he fell to his knees in front of me, and I know with my heart and soul he was feeling so guilty, about the accusations, about not trusting me and Ben together. I didnt care. I wanted death, and I wanted it that very moment. I wanted to follow Ben quickly to the other side, wherever that is, and be there with him forever.  I felt hollowed out. I felt empty beyond words and comprehension. I felt completely soulless. My world was black, void, nothing in it worth even opening my eyes to look at. There was a song that I played, over and over, that kept me sane. It kept me crying, but crying I knew kept me alive. There was no emotion I felt besides pain. It still hurts, fresh, like it was yesterday he left me. That week, the funeral, that month, that year.... was a haze for me. A cold and angry haze. I felt so much hatred and venom for anyone and everyone. None of them could replace him in my heart, ever. I withdrew, not even into myself... just away. Another world, another place where best friends didnt die, and good mothers didnt lose their babies.
Im still trying to let Ben go. It seems impossible even today. I will never forget him, or let his memory, or the incredible person he was fade from my heart. But I feel like my pain is his, and I'm scared to stop hurting for him, as if stopping would cause him to have never existed.
In loving memory of

Benjamin Royden Campbell

10/30/77 - 03/13/01
"I never wanted to write these words down for you. With the pages of phrases of things we will never do. So I blow out the candle, and I put you to bed. Since you cant say to me now, how the dog broke your bone, theres just one thing left to be said.... say hello to heaven."


Dan said...

I can see that... this still hurts you. You may try to cover that hurt up in any number of ways... but it's what makes you human. You may feel empty, and honestly i don't think i can change that for you, but i can try to ease a little pain.

All i can do is listen, and read... but i can try to be a comfort. I've certainly never lived through what you've experianced. To be selfish, i hope i don't. I don't want to lose my closest friend, I don't ever want to find out that my the friend i love has been taken away.

If you knew me... really knew me... i don't think that you'd be much interested in being my friend. I've been asked, "if your at a party, where do you find yourself: with the macho guys, with the girls, the punks, or the kids drinking and doing drugs?"
Me... I'd be the one kid standing outside looking at the sky from the deck. I'm not like the macho guys, i'm not only in it for a piece of ass, and i'm not all sports; i don't mind hanging around with the girls... but when it's gossip, you get funny looks; the punks are just kids that want to be misunderstood... but i understand them; which leaves me with the drugs and drinkers, i tend to keep away from that, because they're normally drunk or stoned beyond tollerance for being sober.

I don't fit in. I'm quiet. I'm not over-confident. I don't make friends easy. I'm often misunderstood for being an asshole, or standoff-ish for not talking and involving myself. When i speak, it doesn't come out how i'd like it to, i bumble with words and stringing stories together. I don't turn crazy at a party, i'm not some social marvel. No, i'd be happier standing out on a deck on a cool night looking at the stars.

If we were to both be in that type of enviroment, i doubt i would have ever met you. I find myself wondering more often if we were near the same age, and near each other... would we have been friends? All rationality tells me no. We're very similar, but also very different. You speak up over anything you see as wrong. I'd most likely keep my mouth shut. The truth of the matter is, online i have a voice with very little repercussions... and in that way, i'm different from how i actually am.

Remember him Joy, always do, feeling the pain and hurt from his loss is natural. I don't know Ben, i won't even begin to try to understand how close you two were. I think it may be safe to say however, that Ben may not want you to hurt, to remember him always, but allow for that pain to recede. ( ... this is a prime example of a mental block of words, not finding the right thing to say, when i'd be quiet, knowing in my heart i may have said something horrible.)

Tonight i got that call from Laura. The call that i didn't want to answer, i didn't have anything to say to her. The call that i didn't want to make, so she made it. You know i hate the phone, it puts me on the spot to talk, it goes against my nature. There was small talk, and akward quiet spots, but in the end she said "I've got your present, i'll be at your house in a couple minutes." I didn't want to see her, i could have been fine with not hearing from her for a long, long time.
She showed up shortly after with her friend Ashley and came in, we talked for a long while after she gave me a gift card. By then... i don't rightly know what was happening. I wasn't angry at her, i wasn't mad, i didn't really know what i was i thinking.
When they asked if i wanted to come to wal-mart with them to look for a movie, i went and got my wallet and went with. Feeling better then, realizing that it would be fine, more than fine, to be 'just a friend'. I don't find myself looking at her in the same akwardness of keeping a secret, knowing that we can be just friends now without the weird pressure. For the first time, i erased from my head the thought of ever being with her.
Tonight we were just friends running around from wal-mart to wal-mart looking for a copy of the South Park Movie. I felt guilty then of not getting her anything, so while in that department, i asked what music she'd like... she picked out 3 Days Grace and Jet. she expected that she was going to pay for them, but i did, as her gift for her birthday, 2 days after mine.
We never did find the movie, but it was two hours of not feeling like i had some secret to hold, some akward feeling like things had all changed.
Things seem to only change when shes around guys she likes. That hits hard, but thats ok. We all have our ways. If being who i am gets me friends instead of someone closer... so be it...

So, so you think you can tell heaven from hell, blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil, Do you think you can tell?

And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts? Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze? Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead-role in a cage?

How i wish, how i wish you were here.
We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year
Running over the same old ground, What have we found? The same old fears
Wish you were here

Joy, take care of yourself, stay strong, believe in yourself, be true to yourself. Truly... you deserve so much more than what life has dealt you. I'm happy to play a small part...

Joy said...

It does still hurt. Once I finish writing about Ben and Steves part in my life you will understand a lot better why it brings me down so.

You are one of the best listeners I know Dan.. and theres no woman on earth who has lived past 25 who would say that isnt the single most important quality to have in a relationship with a male. It is, remember that. Steve and Ben were my best friends because of that very thing. The ability to listen, to hear thoughts and feelings of another without offering judgement or opinion to it. When there is no communication, there is no relationship, that goes for friendships or lovers alike. Its because of you listening to me, and me knowing you are hearing it, that makes you mean so much to me.

I do know you Dan, really know you. Let me explain. As a kid in junior high school, I had all kinds of friends. I was friends with some of the jocks, friends with some of the druggies, friends with some of the nerds and always friends with anyone brave enough to talk to me. Although Ive never been able to shut my mouth when I see wrongdoings going on, its the only time I was used to opening it. Otherwise, I was quiet, severely introverted. Heres a good way to tell, some of the most famous things said to me as a teen were "I didnt think you liked me" "You always look so mad" "I thought you were stuck up" Make more sense now? Of course it does, as it is you today. But those are the people I went out of my way to protect. I knew I had a power with me at school. The power was in intimidation, people are afraid of the unknown, and my personality was extremely unknown, and unpredictable. I had little confidence in my self about anything, much less myself. I hate speaking in front of strangers, and I dont mean on the stage speaking, I mean at all. I wasnt stuck up, I was shy in a crippling manner. There was only one thing that could bring me out of my protective shell even back then. It was to see an injustice done. My parents said for years that I was going to be a lawyer. Well I am not one now but even then, at age 12, 14 16.. I would have never stood by and watched someone be hurt that didnt deserve it, nor would I watch people be bullied because of what they were, outside or inside. I was the first one, and normally the only one to jump into a fray where jocks were giggling about the nerd they were shoving around on the bus. The first and only one to stand up and let it be known that that nerd they were shoving around was my friend. Someone I knew. For some reason, the entire school feared me in a way. So if I laid my claim as a friend to anyone, they never got ridiculed again. Most of the time I never seen those kids again, to be honest I was too ashamed of my own species to face them down once I got them out of their bad positions. Had we been the same age, had we grown up in the same places. I would have been the kid who noticed a kid standing on the deck looking at the stars, and snuck away from my so called friends to come find out what that kid was doing. Without bringing attention, without judgement, without ulterior motive. That was me, still is in the big picture. Likely I would have approached you and asked you what you were looking at. Then proceeded to tell you the stories of each and everyone of those stars. Anything original or unusual steals my attention from the fakes, the common or the usual. You my friend, are far from usual, far from common, and as original as it gets.

In my heart I want to tell you Laura doesnt deserve you and to leave her alone. But Id never feel that way truly. There is one thing that you are going to have to get used to. Women who value friendships, relationships with men in their lives are VERY cautious when taking any kind of steps that may change that. Im not building hopes here, only speaking the truth. Had Laura jumped on the opportunity you presented to her, Id likely worry more. I know that may make little sense at the moment, but it makes all the sense in the world. Had I not valued the relationship I had with Ben it wouldnt be the same for me now. You are an example of what men should be Dan. Because of that women are always going to approach you with caution. They will be cautious at first because its incredible to believe there are men like this who are actually alive in this world, not dead to it, or taken. After they realize you are genuine, even the ones who may harbor feelings for you are going to wonder if its worth the chance.... I feel for them, Im not sure Id take the risk. But someone will, and its them and only them who deserve your respect, and love. You are a dream come true for anyone who finds themselves worthy of love, and a nightmare while awake for those who think to deny they can feel the love they so long ago thought was gone.

I am who I am today because of the deaths of Steve and Ben. Were it not for losing them I would still be the quiet girl who only spoke out when she seen someone being hurt. The pain of those losses made me speak up, made me realize I had to say it now, say it clear and never fear the rejection or the laughter I might gain from saying what I feel is true. Not everyone has to learn lessons the hard way like this. Some people just deserve to be told good things about themselves and to earn their confidence and self esteem through sheer truth, not intense pain. I hope more then anything, I have shown you that over these last 2 years. That you are one of those who deserves to know, one of those who people should talk about now, not wait until some ugly tragedy explodes in everyones faces to start announcing how great you were..... See what I mean now? How its changed me... this is how.

"I took a walk around the world to ease my troubled mind
I left my body laying somewhere in the sands of time
I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon
I feel there is nothing I can do, yeah

I watched the world float to the dark side of the moon
After all I knew it had to be something to do with you
I really don't mind what happens now and then
As long as you'll be my friend at the end"

Dan said...

I'll keep you by my side...

Someday... i might accept the idea that i'm worth a damn. All i have to offer is friendship. You've shown me much, you've told me many inspiring words; i feel that somehow i haven't done my best. I feel that i could be a better friend... i just don't know how.

As for Laura... i've given up my foolish thoughts. It's apparent now that she is used to guys throwing themselves at her. I did, in a covert way. Now however, i see things differently. Shes fun to be around yes, but i don't like her in the same way. Giving up is maybe the best thing i've done in this type of situation. Now, i don't feel like i have to impress her, like i have some great secret to hide. I don't have something to hide anymore... and i don't feel the same for her anymore. It seems that between us theres friendship, not a deep, personal friendship, but one that may only run skin deep. I've seen it like that before... hell, been ignored when someone else more important comes along. This time around, i won't feel crushed like i did before... i know it will happen again, but this time, i don't give a damn anymore.

After reading that... I can't rightly explain how that makes me feel. Happy, glad, lucky... so much more. Call it strange, but i can see now, see us both as kids around my age talking on that deck about anything and everything. Of course i'd be doing more nodding than talking, thats just what i do. But i can see it so vividly. I can close my eyes and see it all, the cool breeze, the clear sky, the bright stars. I have been the one kid on the deck at parties, hearing the jumbled mess of voices and music from inside, but not really listening to it... feeling lonely on that deck, out of place.
How i wished then the exact same thing you've explained would happen. Thats most likely why i can see it so vividly in my mind, i've played it out in my head so many times before... but never could confirm in my mind, that anybody around me would do that, that they would leave from their social group and notice me. You make me feel like i belong, like theres a place i can go and be accepted... i sincerely want to thank you... but that doesn't seem like enough.

Joy said...

See now heres the good part... Ready??

See, it might take weeks, months or years, but one night, you WILL be at that party, gazing at the stars and feeling alone, and then she will come out there, and everything will make a lot more sense at that moment.. kind of like that moment everything goes click. Maybe its slightly depressing to realize I havent heard that click yet, not in the form of a mate, but the fact that I could experience it at anytime, anywhere, is a lot of reason to keep on going when I have no urge to at all.

Know what I mean?

Dan said...

Lol that 'us standing on the deck' part... i was thinking more along the lines of me and you standing there as friends and chatting about the kind of stuff we do now.

Joy said...

So was I