Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In Loving Memory

This post has been delayed because of the holidays. But also because... I had to give myself time to accept it. I guess.

Tim Whinery was my neighbor of many years. He was much more than a neighbor though. When he first moved in my family didn't really have much contact. Slowly, we got to know him and his family. He asked if I could possibly take care of his young son Dillon. I would have to pick him up across the street at kindergarten and entertain him for a couple of hours before Tim came home from work. As Dillon grew up, I babysat him on different occasions. Then his wife Celina became pregnant with their second child and when they brought him home Tim was the proud papa bear. I babysat Spencer and Dillon many times over the next few years. My dad and Tim started getting into dune buggies and soon both families would go to Glamis regularly.

As I grew up, Tim was someone I could talk to. At the beginning of 2001 my parents split. My dad left the house and essentially left my life. Tim stepped in. He made sure that I knew I could always go over to his house and talk if I needed to; both him and Celina were there for me. He checked up on me whenever one of us drove by. He helped me with my mustang when it went down (multiple times). Tim realized that when my dad left, he vacated that role in my life. Even when I wasn't actively missing it, Tim would give me a hug goodbye and it filled that void - much more than my dad ever did. When I started dating, he would ask to meet the guy I was seeing. At the time, I was with Ross and I brought him over to meet him. We sat on his back patio while they smoked cigars (bleh). Ross really liked him and we would have stayed for dinner if Ross had the time that day. (This is significant in the fact that... Ross was incredibly anti-social and hated meeting people. But Tim made him feel comfortable and they connected.)

When I made the decision to move to Florida, he was one of the people that I told immediately. Subsequently, when I returned, I made a point of going over there to say I'm back. This last year... I've been busy. I moved to Newbury Park when I returned and so I didn't get see Tim that often. Erik, my mom's husband, became more of a father figure in my life and I'm very grateful for it. I still wanted to see Tim but I was busy and I had heard that him and his family were going through some things. When Ian came out for Thanksgiving, I gave a lot of thought to bringing him up to Tim's house to meet him. I really wanted his approval I guess. But it looked like he had family over and I didn't want to bother them. It is a deep regret that I carry with me today.

On December 20th, I got a call from Erik saying that he had some bad news. Tim had died. My reaction was one that shocked me. Up until that point I don't think I had actively thought about his role in my life. I cried uncontrollably the entire night. It was a mix of sadness, anger and denial. When I learned the details of his death, I was even more upset. Apparently, on December 16th, Tim was going between 80-100mph in a 40mph zone on a street above my mom's house. He made 6 to 8 passes before wrapping his BMW around a tree. Probably no one will ever know what was going through his mind but to me Tim wanted to die. A week before Christmas, he choose to end his life and leave his wife and kids. The anger is still with me. The next day I attended his funeral. I sobbed at seeing his picture. I hadn't seen him in months and the memories just came flooding back... The chapel was filled with pictures that I remember sitting on their mantel. Tim and the kids, his wedding, his dune buggy... It was a very hard service to get through. Seeing Celina after so long was also very hard. The kids... Dillon is now 14 (I believe) and Spencer is 8. Dillon smiled at seeing me again and Spencer was smiling but quiet as always. My mom keeps telling me I should stop by to see Celina. I don't know what to do really... I know that if I go near his house I will start crying uncontrollably. Just seeing his truck - the symbol I have for him - made me very emotional. I am sure Celina is getting through the healing process with her and her kids. I don't want to interrupt that. But I know I should stop by and see them. I don't want to have another regret if they move away.

It's been 3 weeks or so since the funeral. I have had dreams that I see him randomly on the street or that he has come back to life. There are many emotions tied to his memory. I deeply regret not going to see him at Thanksgiving. My anger is still there. If he did in fact choose to do this, how very selfish of him. He may not have been thinking about the ripple effect he would have... but to not think of his kids first... It's just extremely selfish. I miss him. I miss updating my life with him and just chit-chatting... He was proud when I got my job at Countrywide and interested in what was going on with me. He was the first father-type figure that I wanted to impress. My dad was not a father to me. He didn't care to be involved in my life. He used fear to discipline and "teach". I will never miss having him in my life. But Tim was different. He wanted to be my friend and look out for me. He wanted to make sure I was dating a good guy and my car didn't leave me stranded all the time.

I don't know what went so wrong in his life that he felt the need to do this. I will miss him. I am thankful to have had him in my life. I hope he is finally at peace.

This song was played at the beginning of his service. It is fitting I think. He had a suit and tie job but came home and worked on his dune buggy... It breaks my heart to hear it. But the more I listen to it the less I cry.

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