I got the call at around 3:00 Sunday. I was about halfway home from Dallas when my phone rang. It was a LA number that I didn't recognize, so I just let it go to voicemail. I called and checked the voicemail shortly after and the message was from Krystal, Nick's best friend since they were born, literally. I could tell she was upset and crying, all she said was, "Hey Nicci, this is Krystal, I need you to call me back." I debated about calling right then, or waiting until I got home (my battery was really low since my phone hadn't been charged since Saturday morning). I figured the call was about Nick's mom or grandmother since his mom isn't in the best health, and his grandmother is pretty old, and I thought that he just couldn't call me himself... I decided to call her back right then. I never, in a million years, would have been able to prepare myself for the news.
She answered and I said, "What happened?"
She said, "He's gone. Nick's gone. He died."
I have no idea what I said at this point. Everything is/was fuzzy from this point, until I got home at 5:30.
I was driving down I-45 and the traffic was pretty thick, I was in the left lane and was trying to get over to the shoulder but it took me a while to get over there. I told her to hold on and put the phone down so I could make it to the shoulder without hitting another car. When I picked the phone back up, I told her to tell me exactly what happened. I figured he had been in a car accident, or had been killed while working (he was an electrician). When she told me what happened, I didn't believe her. I couldn't believe her. I mean, how could he leave us? Leave his mom? Leave his grandmother? Leave me? Leave everyone that loved him so much? How??
She asked me if I was okay because right then, all I could do was be pissed off. I wasn't sad. I was mad. Angry. I knew my phone was about to go dead so I said I would call her when I got home, and she asked me if I was sure I could make it the rest of the way home… I wasn't sure I could, but I didn't really have a choice. After we hung up, I lost it. Then I got it back together, called my sister who didn't answer, called my BIL, Lance, and all he said was, "I'm so sorry." He already knew. He is the reason Nick and I met. Nick was his apprentice from early 2003-mid 2005 when he turned out. A guy he worked with who lived in Oberlin, the same town as Nick, had already heard about it. Small town USA, I tell you. He asked me where I was, I told him halfway between Houston and Dallas. Then my phone started beeping. I started to tell him that my battery was about to run out, I had to go so I could save some for just in case. No luck. The battery ran out, and there was nothing left. My phone wouldn't turn on.
I really feel like it was for the best, though. Had I been able to talk to my sister, my mom, or Denise, I would not have made it home. I made it the rest of the way home and as soon as I walked in the door and sat down, it was all over. I lost it. I wanted to go back to being numb, to being the way I was in car. I didn't want to be sad. I didn't want to cry so hard I couldn't breathe.
I plugged my phone in, turned it on, and the voicemails started rolling in. Several from my sister, a couple from my mom and a couple from my boss/mom's best friend, Carolyn. They were all worried about me, knowing that I was probably driving when I got the news. My sister had called Carolyn who drove to my place, and over to the office to see if I was back in town yet. I called my sister first, and all she could say was, "I am so sorry." Then I called my mom. She didn't know what to say, or what to do. She asked me if I wanted her to come over and I said I didn't know. She said she and Laird were on there way and were going to stop and get me something to eat, even though I told her I wasn't hungry. Then I called Carolyn and left a message on her voicemail.
I called Krystal to check on her and Ms. Aline (Nick's mom), and to see if the arrangements had been finalized yet. In Oberlin, they do these things really fast. It's not at all unusual for the funeral to be the day after someone has passed, unless it's a Catholic family (Ms. Aline is Catholic, Nick had not been a practicing Catholic for years), in which case there's the Rosary the night before the funeral. They were at the funeral home making the arrangements, Ms. Aline had just picked out the casket, and was trying to figure out what clothes she was going to put Nick in. She couldn't have chosen a more appropriate casket, or clothes for him to wear…as he would have been proud that he looked so handsome, and that the casket is probably something he would have chosen for himself.
I spent the next hour trying to decide when I was going to drive to Lake Charles. My sister wanted me to drive in Sunday night, but my mom and Carolyn thought it would be best if I didn't get back on the road. I was pretty certain that I could not get back in the car for another 2 hours, and make it safely. I decided it was probably best me to head to Lake Charles early Monday morning. I finally got a hold of Denise on the phone and I could barely talk. She came over, thank God. I don't think I could have been alone that evening. All I could see was Nick. Dead. The way he died. I still see that image, I doubt I will ever be able to erase that image, as much as I might want to.
I'm done for now. These blogs are probably going to center around this pretty heavily for a while. I've just got to work through it, and writing it out is the only way I know to do that.