(Continued from Whirlwind, Part Four)
One night, Stacie came over after serving drinks at a local mixed martial arts event. She had on an little black dress and a pair of disconcerting fake eyelashes. She was tired and hungry and came equipped with the remnants of some sort of chicken dish. She picked at her food and told me tales of working at such an unusual venue.
She told me about the guy who tried to woo her with his money. Or half of it, anyway. She had served him a drink and he pulled out a hundred dollar bill to tip her. But instead of just giving her the money, he tore it in half and told her she could have the other half if she went out with him. Classy. She kept the half-Benjamin as a souvenir and a great story-starter. She never did call the guy.
She told some more stories and then we started looking at a few pictures on my computer's slideshow screen saver. A picture of my dad popped up so I told her about how my dad had just passed away the year before and the crazy/awful/wonderful circumstances that surrounded his death. She told me about how she had never really lost anyone who was close to her in her life. I told her about being with my grandma in her dying days and when she breathed her last. We stayed up late, talking about how death has and has not affected us.
x x x
The next day, Saturday, I was over at Chad and Kelly's. I don't remember what I was doing; I might have been helping Chad with a home improvement project or just hanging out and shooting the breeze. In either case, I was talking with them when I received a call from Stacie. Since our normal mode of communication was texting, this seemed odd. And since I generally don't answer phone calls while I'm talking with someone face-to-face, I let the call go to voicemail.
When the conversation reached a stopping point, I checked the voicemail. She asked me to call her if I had a chance. She was brief and not brimming with her normal mischievousness. So I went out on the front porch and gave her a call.
When she answered, I asked if everything was alright. She informed me that one of her close friends was murdered while trying to leave Westport the night before. In fact, it happened at almost the exact same time that we were having the conversation about how Stacie had never lost anyone close to her.
I was stunned. I stupidly but instinctively asked her if she was okay. She told me she was hanging in there, but that she was shocked and upset. I asked her if there was anything I could do for her or if she just wanted to get together and hang out and talk about what happened. She said that she was going to visit Devin’s parents but that she wanted to get together later.
She was still in a daze when we got together later that night. She couldn’t believe that Devin was really gone. Stacie had seen her just a few days before and they were supposed to get together very soon. And that was one of the things that was really weighing heavily on Stacie’s mind.
We had talked before about the lifestyle Stacie used to lead. She and her friends partied a lot and lived care-free and decadent lives. For a while, she really dug that kind of stuff. But, eventually, she realized it wasn’t doing her any good and she started to make an effort to strengthen her relationship with God. Apparently seeing the change in Stacie’s life, Devin started asking Stacie questions about God. She asked if they could get together sometime soon and discuss things more thoroughly and Stacie readily agreed. The date arrived for their get-together, but Stacie had to cancel. Devin was killed only days after, before they could reschedule.
Obviously, Stacie was devastated. She felt guilty and responsible for whatever eternal fate awaited Devin. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she had let her friend down on the most important level imaginable. It was an awful lot to deal with for someone who had yet to lose anyone close to them.
I told her that it wasn’t her fault, that things happen for a reason. I told her that she needed to trust that God knew what he was doing and that Devin would be ok. The fact that she was even seeking answers was a very good thing and that while Stacie may have missed one appointment, she had been there for Devin and Devin knew that.
Stacie understood what I was saying but was still understandably distraught. She spent a lot of time with her friends and Devin’s parents, mourning and reminiscing and supporting each other.
x x x
One night, she asked me if I would like to go to dinner with her and a group of her friends. It was both a nerve-wracking and exciting proposition. I always get nervous meeting new people. Additionally, she was giving me a test drive in front of her friends. But that aspect was also exciting because it meant that I rated high enough to even meet her friends at all.
Her friend Ray met us at my place and we all went to Pot Pie in Westport to join her three other friends. They were an interesting and eclectic group of folks. All good people and a good mix of personalities. The dinner was excellent and I managed not to make an ass of myself in front of her friends.
Afterwards, Stacie and Ray and I picked up some wine and went back to my apartment. Ray was friends with Devin, too, and so the conversation naturally shifted to her and spiritual topics. Ray was really struggling with Devin’s death and how to deal with it. He was questioning his off-and-on relationship with God. Stacie and I spent most of the night trying to help him gain perspective on all that had happened. Ray can be a bit loquacious, so he ended up doing most of the talking. I just tried to be patient and listen and interject where I could with whatever wisdom and knowledge I had available.
Once the wine was gone and Ray had talked himself out, he thanked us for listening and took off. Stacie hung around for a little while longer and apologized for Ray’s long-windedness. I told her I was happy to be able to lend an ear to her or any of her friends. She thanked me for listening, I thanked her for allowing me to hang out with her friends and she headed home.
(To Be Continued...)