I have been missing people a lot lately. Specifically Rob. I must have spent well over an hour last night, crying softly into my pillow and thinking about the events around his death.
It was April 15th of my freshman year. I had just gotten a cell phone (as in three days previous - my first ever). I was walking from the cafeteria back to my dorm when Lacy, in her little car, screeched to a halt in front of me. She seemed like she wanted to be angry that it had taken her so long to find me, but anger was not it.
She took a gentle but firm hold of my shoulders and told me that Robbie had been killed in a car accident. She must have known I would begin to fall to the ground, or else she wouldn't have held me so securely. She ushered us into her tiny car and took us to Katie's house (if that gives any indication of how long ago this happened). We walked in and found more than half of the theatre department sitting, pacing, calling everyone they could think of to call.
People were crying, some even wailing, a few laughing. Laughter seems to erupt at the most inappropriate moments, which in and of itself made me think of Rob's weird sense of humor. We sat on a couch. I just sat there and observed it all for a short while. The picture in my head is of Ben clutching onto Annika, both of them absolutely wailing with grief. And it was at that moment that I realized I wasn't crying.
In case anyone reading this does not know me very well, I cry at everything. No really, I cry over small, silly things all the time. But for some reason nothing was happening. It was probably just shock.
I am sorry to admit it now, even though these feelings are long since passed, but I remember looking at these people, these Greek masks of misery and thinking, "You people didn't even know him. You have been in his presence for less than one school year, and most of you didn't actually hang out with him. I went to high school with him, and even I don't have an extremely close relationship with him!" It made me angry for some reason, like I thought people were faking it. I realize now, of course, how silly and selfish that is. I know now I was wrong. But it made my emotions so unpredictable that night.
I remember Alex and Lara showing up as everyone piled into Katie and Paula's den to circle up, cry and pray. I remember wondering cynically how many people here would really miss him. It was so petty, such a waste of precious emotion.
I was so exhausted, emotionally and physically, the next day from crying. I remember the services on campus. I remember people wearing backwards caps for weeks in rememberence. It must have been sometime my senior year when I could finally sing "There's a Stirring" without crying. Maybe other people found it as appropraite as I did, maybe it was simply new and popular around the time of Rob's death, but all I knwo is that we sang it a lot at his services and in theatre chapel. It was more than two years before I could get all the way through that song without choking up. Even now I think of him almost every time I sing it.
It seemed appropriate to me. Many people speculated over why God would take someone like Rob from this Earth so quickly. I believe, as do many others, that Rob was in so many ways pure light, and God didn't want to see him ruined by this world. So the words "Is he calling me? Is he calling me? I will rise up" have always moved me.
I spent a good deal of time that night on the phone. I had to call all of my friends from high school theatre who knew him. It was dreadful, because every call started with people being excited that I finally had a cell phone, and ended with shocked silence and doubt.
There just aren't enough people like Rob in this world. He wasn't the smartest guy in the room, he had an endearing lack of social graces. He always smiled; it was his default. Just simple, uninhibited joy to be who and where he was. It was contagious, most of the time. He was one of the most truly genuine people I have ever known. He never lied; sometimes it seemed he didn't have the sense to cover his own tracks. If I called him at 2:30 am saying I had cut my leg shaving and needed a BandAid, he would sneak out of his dorm, drive to Wal-Mart across town (because back then, the only 24 hour Wal-Mart was on the other side of town, by the mall), paid for the BandAids and found a way to get them to me on the second floor of my dorm.
He was truly a blessing to the people around him.
My favorite Rob story still makes me laugh. Well, I have two. The first one wouldn't be as funny if it were someone else. Someone else might have sensed the potential danger and made it scary. To be honest, anyone else would have avoided the situation by reading the street signs. I was complaining after Bible one day that when I used the ATMs on campus, I got a charge on my account, and had, on multiple occassions, overdrafted doing so. I needed a Bank of America. Well, Rob told me he had the same bank, and knew where an ATM was. Great - we set off in his old pickup. It was just on the south side of the tracks, somewhere between Treadaway and Teri's dance studio. Well, we turn down the street, seeing the bank about 5, 6 blocks away. A car comes towards us, switches lanes and politely honks at us as he passes. Confused, we look around and find that we are going the wrong way on a one way street!! Well, being Rob, he just cracks up! We pulled into a parking lot and manuevered our way to the bank from there, laughing the whole time.
My other favorite took place before we ever met on Abilene soil. Towards the end of our senior year at Creek, we realized we were both going to ACU for theatre. We were talking about it, fears, joys, etc. Rob looks me dead in the eye, with all seriousness and a slight bit of begging, and says, "You have to follow me around all the time, so that when I talk to a chick and say something wrong, you can go 'No, no, he didnt mean that, he is a nice guy'". I will never forget how muched I laughed, and how I looked right back at him and said, "You are going to need it, aren't you?" We laughed and went on with life, such as it was.
I realize this was random and long winded, but I wanted to share these. I miss him. He was a true friend to anyone who would let him hang around long enough. He is a reminder of God's love and mercy (and sense of humor).
Be thankful for the things you have, the people who love you, the breath you take.