He's one of my favorite peeps.
A few weeks ago, I started a little feature, sharing with you the people who color my world. I introduced you to the amazing Thea.
And today, I want you to get to know Nick.
We met Nick when our families were all living on an island a few years back. He and 1 of 8 became dearest friends. The Nick Dad is a Navy Top Gun, for real. Ice Man. Maverick. Goose. And so, as is military family custom, our time living in the same locale was too short. They moved away from our island about a year before we ended up moving as well.
But Nick and 1 of 8's friendship has continued to grow. Emailing, Facebook-ing, Skype-ing. Nick is one of the most hilarious people we know and he can make 1 of 8 laugh harder and louder than anyone. Nick is also one of the deeper young men out there, an artist, a musician. A writer.
I asked Nick's permission to publish the following memoir he has written. He has graciously agreed. So warm up that cup of coffee and take a comfortable seat. This is a must-read.
I hate gray. Gray is a poison with no antidote. Gray. The same habitual shade that appears above my head each, and every day, now grinds into my soul along with the knowledge of what is to come. What an unpleasant and ambiguous color to have visit you each instant you open your eyes. An unvarying reminder that this date is no different then the one that preceded it. But this day was different. It was a day I had prayed would never come. Still now I stared at the ceiling, at that repulsive grey cast by the morning light, wondering why my prayers hadn’t been answered. But the day had arrived anyway, a symptom that the venom was dispersing. So I just gazed at the cold sun rising. There is no time existing in this light, I had stared at it for at least a lifetime, but I knew it hadn’t been more than a few minutes. It was five in the morning at the latest, and the pain of lying in my bed had caused me to regain consciousness of the situation.
The worst part about this sordid color is the vile silence that surrounds it. Gray absorbs nothing. I could hear the rustling up both sets of stairs. I could even smell the cookies my mom was baking. This was a sure sign of her nervousness. She wasn’t as nervous the first time. That was understood though. Before now war was a word of the past, but at this time it was slowly becoming a way of life for all of us. I stood up and closed my eyes to clear the grey, to clear my thoughts, to hear my parents upstairs.
“I need to go.”
“One more,” my mother pleaded.
“I really need to leave.”
My mom then said something, but it was muffled by sobs and rushed down the stairs to grab my sister and me. I was already halfway up and I scraped her as she headed to my sister’s room. I rubbed my eyes and looked up to watch my dad go down the other flight of stairs to meet me in the living room. He gave me a long hug.
“I love you”
“Just one more,” my mom said, coming up the stairs.
“I need to go.”
She ran promptly into the living room and copied a verse from the Bible onto a note card. Then she ran up to him and stuck the card into one of his green flight suit’s numerous pockets telling him not to forget the cookies she had made him. He subsequently opened the door backwards and walked outside, my mother closely behind him. She was carrying the cookies, which now steamed in the intense cold of the air. I had never seen him this upset before. He wouldn’t even let us drive him onto the base to see him depart. He had to be brave for all of us. He was on the verge of crying and he couldn’t allow anything to send him over that edge. I watched his and my breath fade into the terrible gray as we walked in silence. Following him through the dense fog into a world of indistinctness toward his truck to say our goodbyes. The majority of them consisting of drawn-out hugs and kisses. Everything in me urged me to shout out not to go, that I loved him too much to let him disappear, but the words just wouldn’t come out. Instead I clasped him in silence, trying so hard not to let him break away. He took our farewells without speaking a word. He had no need to say anything. He loved us and we knew it. So he stepped into his truck, cookies in hand, and started to back up. I watched him as he was slowly swallowed by the gray, and listened until at last there was no indication of him ever being there.
None of us were prepared to let him go away and we all secretly dreaded we would never see him again. But he was gone nonetheless and we all made our journey to accepting that. Each of us separating into a special room to settle in our distress. You could feel it in the wind and see it in the sky. I crossed back into the absence of time not altogether conscious of what just happened. That everything was going to change. So I waited on my bed, trying hard not to allow the poison go beyond my head to my heart. It was so cold when the door opened and he walked inside. I could hear it but couldn’t believe it when I saw the apparition of my father standing at the top the stairs in our house. He was laughing as he ran upstairs and searched around. My family stood there bewildered, not sure what to think of the recent arrival. Could it be true? It could at least for now.
“I forgot my hat,” he said as he continued to laugh.
We all stood there, jaws let fall. He then kissed my mom and left, only to serve as a comma in the crying. All in the cold sun.
They say that when you are young you see everything in black in white and as you get older all things fade to gray. But I stand as a testament to say that I’ve witnessed enough of that vile gloom to never care to see it again.
I hate gray.
For those who protect our country, defend freedom, secure our borders and uphold our ideals, thank you. Thank you, Nick, for sharing your dad with us. Thank you, the Nick Family, for the sacrifice, the long separations, the worry. And thank you, the Nick Dad. Your honor, your diligence and your integrity serve us all.
That Nick. He's one of my favorite peeps.