Way back in the day, back when Facebook was still for college kids and Myspace was actually kinda cool, this was my profile picture. ---->
A local musician named Andy sent me a message one day, saying that he liked my boots. He invited me to come watch one of his shows. It was a good hour drive from my house in light traffic, and well, I'm lazy, so I didn't go.
He continued to message me on a regular basis. He was really funny, and it turned out that we had a lot in common. We ended up becoming really good friends.
After almost a year of texting and talking online, I finally got brave enough to go to one his shows.
It was a Wednesday. June 6. At a biker bar called Dexter's.
When I climbed out of my truck, Andy was pulling his equipment out of his Jeep. He asked me to hold his tuner for a minute, and he wrapped me up in one of the biggest hugs ever. It instantly felt like we had been the best of friends for years.
When we walked inside, I felt a bit out of place. I was a tiny young country girl in a mini skirt and cowboy boots, and I was surrounded by bikers with leather pants and grungy beards. Andy put his stuff on stage, and then walked around to introduce me to every person in the bar. At one point, he even picked me up to make sure that people saw my "awesome boots".
It turned out that most of these rough looking bikers were mostly policemen and firemen and a few others that just liked to ride together and enjoy some cold beer. I was the only girl that had ever come to see Andy, so I was called "Andy's girlfriend" from that night forward.
|Terry and Andy. I swiped this from Andy's old Myspace account.|
The owner of the bar, Terry, came out to meet me. He greeted me with a smile, a big hug, and a beer. He was the only one that called me by name.
Terry had a voice much like Johnny Cash, and he loved to jump up on stage when he had a chance. This night in particular, he and Andy started belting out gospel songs, and the crowd went crazy over it.
By the end of the night, another lifelong friendship had started.
Over the next few months, I went to almost every show Andy did in the area, especially when they were at Dexter's. Every week, Terry greeted me with his big smile and even bigger hugs, and I sat at the same bar stool enjoying his fun stories. He worked with the Police Dept for 26 years before getting into the restaurant/bar business, so he always had an interesting story. (He retired from the force with high honors and also had several business and community service awards, just for the record.)
I was usually the youngest person there, and although I didn't usually drink more than one beer, Terry took it upon himself to always make sure I was safe. He made sure no one bothered me inside. He made sure no one followed me to my truck. Several nights I drove Andy home, so he made sure which way we were going, just in case anything happened.
When I left home, those late nights with those great friends were one of the hardest things to walk away from, second only to the kids that I didn't want to miss growing up. I've always been one of those people that gets along great with everyone but only has a small handful of friends, the kind that are more like family. Terry and Andy (and Randy and John, the other two that Andy always played with) were my family, and learning to live a life without spending time them made me physically hurt.
About 5 hours ago, Terry was killed while out on his motorcycle. I found out just after it happened, and I've been sitting here, wide awake, ever since. Part of me can't sleep because I'm in shock. The other part of me doesn't want to sleep because I don't want to wake up and find out this is real.
The thing that really strikes me in all of this isn't how quickly life changes or how you never know when your last day is gonna be or how you should hug the people you love a little tighter. (I've been reading a lot of those sentiments on Terry's Facebook page. The truth is I'm all too familiar with this, and that kinda stuff just irritates me any more, even though I know they all mean well.) It's the painful realization that my small circle of friends is growing smaller and smaller.
I knew that I would never be able to move back home to the same life that I left. That's to be expected. But I never expected to eventually move back to a life without my friends. Without those friends. I never expected to see so many of them die.
Terry had a huge heart, and he went out of his way to make this world a better place for so many people. He was truly one of the greatest people I've ever known. Please keep his family in your prayers this week.