Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Tribute To Bob Elizeus, Jr.-- Our Best Friend and Brother

Dear Bob,

You’ve been the best friend…a lifelong best-of-best friends for 25 years....and when you died just 3 weeks ago at the end of May….I immediately realized that I will forever more measure memories in terms of Before Bob and After Bob. We are all so sad, so shocked, so beset with grief, so sorry, so sick-with-sorrow that you died in the prime of your life….at just 44 years old. Ed knew you before either of you two could talk…as diaper-buddies…and basically grew-up with you as toddlers and as young boys and pre-teens and teens and through our college years and then all of our adult lives. I met you just shortly after I met Ed when I was in my early 20’s…25 years ago…and considered you absolutely nothing short of a true brother…and knew you loved me that much, too. I am so grateful….so very grateful….that we called you last month…maybe just a few weeks before you died and told you those very words. Out of the blue I remember telling you how much I loved you and how one of our greatest lifelong regrets was that we did not live in the same town. We’re just so sorry and so sad you have departed us. You were the Best Man in our wedding 20 years ago and you are the Godfather to both Sammi and Nicki…and you are our Great Friend. Oh, Bob. It hurts so much that it catches my breath and keeps it and then I forget to breathe. And then, when I finally do breathe, it hurts again.

Hey……we smashed-in a lifetime of great times in the 25 years the three of us had together, didn’t we…? Next to trying to be the best girlfriend ever to the man I so fell in love with in college, I wanted to make a good impression on you. No, not a good impression. I wanted to make a GREAT impression on you. From Ed’s point of view…back when I first met him and through to today, I can assure you he believed the sun rose and set on you. You two were joined at the hips from babyhood and were Great Friends. You know what, Bob? Hardly a week went by…in 25 years…that you and Ed did not talk. He loved you more than a brother could. It’s not possible to even describe in words your and Ed’s friendship. And…I count myself part of that, too. Oh, the 3 of us did so much together. We backpacked, whitewater canoed, hiked, snow-skied, water skiied, went spelunking, boated, biked, fished, moaned-and-groaned, wined-and-dined, laughed-and-cried, debated endlessly and shared great whiskey and Pivo together. Remember our double-blind whiskey contest? Here’s the thing, Bob. You were the Rock. Our Rock. Remember what you did when Ed’s Mom died? Yep, just a Rock to us. And Rocks are supposed to be well… forever….I so miss you.

Oh, Bob….all those crazy things we did together. You almost “killed” my husband-to-be on the eve of my wedding (thanks, Pal!)…and you almost totally interrupted our wedding ceremony because you wouldn’t follow the priest’s direction. Remember, when I almost dropped to my death when we were spelunking that time and we came upon that ledge in the pitch darkness and I’m clinging onto you for dear life??….Remember??….I held onto your shoe….then it slipped off…then I held onto your sock…then that slipped off….then I held onto your ugh big-toe…and I still slipped off the ledge into darkness. And you…you were laughing your head off…Ha Ha! (okay, so you knew it was just a 3 foot drop….but I didn't!!!)

And, all those crazy insane backpacking trips in the total wilderness of barely-even-a-trail nowhere in the West Virginia Cranberry Glade Wilderness Area. Hey, remember Ed and the “Oh, there’s got to be a better camping site just around the corner!!” Oh, you and I made fun of Eddie, didn’t we? And, remember that one old girlfriend (or whatever she was…I’m too classy to say what she really was….) and how she did not know that backpacking means that you go out for days on end (nope, you don’t go back to the van at night…) and she had those nicotine withdrawals? And she fell in the mud-hole and you and Ed were rolling around laughing your heads off (nice, guys, really nice…) and then..the best part…as we were backpacking to the van four days later up the mountains (why was the last day for us always uphill..??) and she said “Well, you may as well put bamboo splints up my fingernails ‘cause that is how much fun I’m having!!” Oh my, we howled about that for decades, didn’t we….!!

And…and….you and I going down the New River in Class 4 rapids in an open canoe and not knowing what we’re doing….! And the skiing…and the drinking…and the arguing over politics.. (well, I too am a die-hard Democrat but you had some rather…um…ardent ideas that no one could talk you out of….).

Oh, and remember that great trip we had with Leslie when she was about 12? It was in WVa again…of course…and we were all into mountain biking…and you guys were into fly-fishing big time…and we hiked and biked and Leslie had a HUGE crush on you?! That was the time I practically got both Les and myself killed by hurling ourselves down a crazy steep mountain trail on bikes that did not fit us at all…cause we were not wanting you and Ed to get the best of a couple of girls. Oh my goodness that was a great time. We had quite a number of great times with Les, didn't we? The four of us really had a ton of fun together and great memories and I know Les considered you an uncle to her…

And, jeez…remember all the GREAT ski trips. Vermont. Utah. British Columbia, PA. Your idea of teaching me how to ski (thanks again, Pal) was to have me point my skis downhill and just go. Great. And….and and…remember (in Vermont) the time me, Ed, Les, Dave, Tanya, Dan, Dave’s Dad…but not Lloyd (chicken-Lloyd / smart-Lloyd) crept upstairs while you were taking a long shower after a big ski day…and we had a HUGE bucket of ice…to throw on you….And right before we opened the door to the bathroom, we heard you singing. You were singing away to your heart’s content. Singing loud and singing with great gusto. Some song about…a railroad??...and in the song…the train is supposed to ….toot??....but instead of making a “toot” sound, well, you actually…how do I say this…you actually “tooted”!! HAHAHA. We all…all of us …rolled on the hallway floor outside your bathroom laughing and laughing and laughing ‘til we cried and could not breathe. And then we laughed more. You finally….in the middle of your “toot” song and your toots, heard us in the hallway and stopped to turn to the door and we bombarded you with a huge big pail of ice/snow water. Oh….be still my heart…it is still laughing. Then, to make a great time even better…you realized we had heard everything. Yes, all of it including your special toot sound effects. And after your shower, you slinked downstairs and put your forehead against the wall ….I’ll never forget it…it was the stone pillar next to the dining room…and….and….and…you BLUSHED. Wow, The Bob blushed. Probably never had happened before and never happened again but we got you, Buddy. To give you total and complete credit, you then laughed longer and harder than all of us put together.

Oh, gross, Bob, what about the time you were chewing tobacco and Ed was drinking a beer and I had a bad habit of taking big swigs of Ed’s beer but… wasn’t HIS beer that I was drinking…Oh, you two….bad bad boys to make such fun of me. I’m sweet…how could you make fun of sweet ‘ol me?

I remember you always teasing me of my pixie haircut…I always pretended to be aggravated but you know what….I loved it when you teased me. What I wouldn’t give to hear you say in that funny high voice you’d affect…”How’s the little pixie haircut girl….?”….

Hah, you could never appreciate how I am such a vegetarian and you always sided-up with Janina when she tried so hard to get me to eat her…sigh….pork, and beef…and...roast…and sausage..and….oh, all that stuff. But, you do know how much I loved your sauerkraut (who didn’t??). Hey, remember that great day in the 80’s when the 3 of us went ice-skating and I drove your brand-new insanely powerful Mustang back to your house and you said (oh, I loved this) aloud to Ed that I ….yes I ….drove your hot-rod better than Ed did. (I am still doin’ the Snoopy dance on that one…). And, then, you served us homemade tomato soup and a crisp fresh salad. I think…no kidding…to this day it was the best food (even better than France which is saying a lot!!) that I ever had. And it was in your Mom’s old house. You were into cooking then. And we ate (right?) on your grandfather’s old butcher block table. And then, that night, you had a dinner party and Becky and friends came over and we played Scrabble and Ed and I lost so horribly. “Dog”. Go”. “No”. Hah! Remember the 3rd grade teacher who was doing all sorts of interesting things in the kitchen. Ha! Ha! And Ed said. “Uh huh, I washed my hands…..see…they are wet!” Eeeewwh… LOL.

And, Bob… were so funny and so sweet…and so truly interested and caring and gosh-darn happy for us….when we adopted our twins. I’ll never forget your “check-in” trip down to Raleigh just after we came back from China. We were all so sick still….especially Ed and the girls….and you hung-in with us for a long weekend and just sat back to watch it all and check-it-out. You told me at the end of the trip that you just wanted to be sure that Ed and I had it under control. And we did and we do and you were so proud of us…I could tell….

Well, like I've told you many times, you know how much the girls love talking about you and seeing your pictures all over our house and saying "Hi" on the phone to you. They pass by your pictures…in fact they just did this with me just this very afternoon…and they say “Uncle Ba-Ba coming??”. And now it is “Uncle Ba-Ba gone?” Oh, this is one of the hardest things for us. It breaks our heart you’re not going to be here to share our girls with you. Les told me last week that before their baptism last summer, you had called her to anxiously ask her what type of gift you should give the girls. Les said you were really taking it all quite seriously…and you did take it seriously. You gave them each a beautiful….simply beautiful…cross. One of my most favorite pictures and memories is on that morning in church seeing you and Leslie holding the girls and participating as GodParents in the baptism celebration. Oh, Bob, your smiles that morning last summer was a sight to see….

And, Bob, I’ll never ever forget that one early morning trip you and I had this Winter as I was taking you to the airport after one of your visits. You know how it’s so easy to talk in a dark car to someone?….Well, you said…out of the blue….”You know, I can do that too!!”. I said “huh, Bob…huh?”…. And you said, “Well, I could do what Ed’s doing…if I found the right person, I could have little ones, too…” Oh, it was so heartfelt, Bob…and so special of you to share that with me. And I was so surprised you said that that I almost veered the car off in the dark right there on Highway 98.

You know….the last thing I want to say here….and I think maybe the hardest thing for me…is what I expected and knew…without a shadow-of-a-doubt…is that you would always just be there with us and for us. And, that I just knew that when (not if but when) one day (decades from now but yep, one day) something happened to Ed, that I’d pick up the phone…like I have hundreds and hundreds of times over the last 25 years….to say "Bob, I need you." And that was just a fact for me. Sometimes I think none of this really happened and that you are not gone…but then my head catches-up and I realize that you are gone…and then I just hurt all over again. I know the hurt will ease over time but it’s not easing now and I’m sad and I miss you so very much.

Here's to you, our buddy and my brother, Bob. Rest in Peace, Sweetheart....

Your ever-loving dear friend….who also thinks the sun rises and sets in you,


Isabella's Mommy & Daddy said...

AMAZING post..
Great Friends are sooo hard to find... Bob sounds AMAZING...I am soooo sorry for you loss.. Hugs to you and your family..
He will live on in your family...

BreezieGirl said...

I'm so sorry for you loss, that was a beautiful tribute to your friend though. I feel like I came to know him a little bit through reading that letter. Thank you for sharing.


insanemommy said...

Jesus girl. I'm sobbing my eyes out for your loss. You are right, it will be a very, very long time before you stop hurting. Sweet friend I wish I were there right now to wrap my arms around you and tell you everything is going to be ok, but the truth is I don't know that my words would be that comforting cuz I know if it were me I don't know how I would go on.....You know I'm always, always here for you my dear friend...I am so terribly sorry for your loss.

I love you honey.


k1 said...

To have had an amazing friendship like that, and to have the memories you have, are special blessings.

Your loss and pain are palapable through that very touching post. Praying that your beautiful girls and the friends you've made in Bloggerland can help you dull the pain of his passing and allow you to rejoice in wonderful memories you have.

Beverly said...

Cindy, I am so sorry for your loss. Just for the suddenness of it and the deep impact your friend left. Thank you for sharing your memories and tribute to him here.

Truly Blessed said...

Cindy & Ed,

No words will make sense, as you know. Your loss is palpable, but you have such wonderful memories to sustain you. Keep those memories close, think of them often, they will help soothe the ache of missing Bob.

Your family and Bob's are still in our prayers.

Kelly (in China)

Cheryl Lage said...

What an incredible man...and an incredible (and clearly deserved tribute). Wishing peace and happy memories to all who are grieving his loss. R.I.P., Bob.

So sorry for your loss.

insanemommy said...

Cin, see you in Virginia Beach in a couple of weeks. It's what the doctor ordered..... I can't wait to see you. Love you bunches!

EllieNat said...

What a beautiful tribute.

Amyesq said...

What an amazing tribute. Bob was also very lucky to have friends like you.

God bless Bob.

Stefanie said...

That was touching and I've never read your blog before. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes and I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this much pain. I wish you peace.

dad said...

I didn't know Bob had died. Thank you for this page. I'll send it around to some of our college crowd.

You have a beautiful family.

Matt said...

I barely knew Bob, but he was a very cool guy who was very popular at the mixed martial arts gym we both went to. He cracked everyone up and then wrestled them into the ground. Bob was the type of person who acted like you had been friends for years and he was great about coming out to support young fighters at their events. One of the guys from South Shore Sport Fighting probably still has a picture that you'd find very funny. Bob entered his first jiu jitsu tournament and dominated a bunch of younger guys who had been training for years. "Who is this older guy that nobody's ever heard of who showed up in purple shorts and kicked all our asses?" The picture of Bob holding his trophy with a big grin was hilarious. Rest in peace Bob.