It has been way too long since my last blog entry. Oh, I have written 20 posts in my head over and over again, craving the time to sit down and put them to paper… keyboard…whatever. When I began InTheMessy, I never thought that life would get in the way of my writing. But I think rather than life getting in the way, it has been my emotions. A lot has happened since my last post over 2-1/2 months ago. Because sixteen days after my last entry, a boy named Michael Talley died. He was 8. And he was one of Charlie’s BFFs. I just didn’t realize his impact until the day before his death.
To be honest, I have put too much pressure on myself to make a blog entry worthy of Michael. But that’s impossible. No words could be worthy of this child’s life. So I will simply write as a means to catharsis tonight, and I will revisit Michael time and time again. This might be my first blog about him, but it will certainly not be my last.
I received a call from the school secretary on Wednesday, August 27. She needed to speak to me when I dropped the kids off that morning. “But I have a doctor’s appointment; may I come after?” She suggested that I bring the kids early; I knew something was wrong. It was 40 minutes before school started, and they were still sleeping. “I’ll be there.” And then I hung up the phone and woke the kids.
Thirty minutes later, I was in a heap on the floor of a secluded room within the school office, having collapsed under the weight of shock and grief. I had just been told that Michael had died on Sunday and was on life support. His mother wanted me to know, because Michael considered Charlie “his best (school) friend.” Surrounded by the school Secretary (hardly what she is– she is the school Rock), Michael and Charlie’s 3rd grade teacher, the school Counselor, and our new Principal, I wailed. Sobbed. My heart ripped open. I was crushed, but it was deeper than that.
Have you ever felt such REGRET that it cut through you like a sword? Pierced your heart with a sharpness that makes you gasp for air? Regret so deep in your bones that the only sound that bellows out is a guttural moan? The emotion that seared within me in that moment was a regret that I doubted I would ever be able to fully release…
For two years, this child Michael Talley was a dear friend to and of Charlie. For two years, Michael looked at me with those huge, sweet, beckoning brown eyes… asking for a playdate. I talked to his Mom on the phone, chatted with his Grandmother at school, or listened to voice messages… “when can we get them together?” Schedules got in the way. I put it off until later. It never happened. Because I never MADE it happen. It is my biggest personal regret of Michael’s short life– that he never came to Charlie Doyle’s home to hang out. Because he and Charlie both wanted that so badly, and I never made it happen.
Close to 10 weeks later, I think I have finally forgiven myself. Because I realize now that a playdate wasn’t what defined their friendship. A playdate isn’t why Michael loved Charlie, and why Charlie loved Michael. Theirs was a bond that needed no external proof. It didn’t need a change-of-bus slip or a carpool notice home in their backpacks. It didn’t need an after-school snack or a trip out for ice cream. Their bond was beyond that. IT JUST WAS. AND IS. AND FOREVER WILL BE.
I went on to my eye doctor appointment that day, explaining that my eyes were red and puffy not because of some rare infection, but because Michael Talley was leaving us for Home. I burst into tears in the middle of my exam. I could barely see by the time I left my appointment, but by the grace of God I ended up in the parking garage of Kosair. And when I took the elevator to 422 East on August 27, 2014, I knew this was most likely my last time to see Michael Talley on this Earth. And that’s why I made a very important pitstop by my house before going to see Michael. That’s when I took this from Charlie’s bed.
Charlie collected sea turtles and loved this one dearly. And I knew it would rest comfortably beneath Michael’s hand. And I was right. Meanwhile, Charlie was in class and had no idea what was going on with his precious friend; he just knew he had been absent. I was thankful to take a piece of Charlie to leave with Michael that day. So as I poured over that child with my tears of love, adoration, sadness, and yes… regret… I told Michael all that he meant to us. That yes, silly “Charlie’s Mom” was kissing his fingers and rubbing his feet and dropping her tears onto those beautiful long eyelashes of his that I always admired. I told him that I was sorry about the playdate. And that we would make it up to him One Fine Day when we are all together again. I believed me, and I know in my Soul that Michael did, too.
Once again, my eyes are red and puffy and I can barely see. So for now I will pause. But there will be more Michael Talley posts to come, because this is just the beginning of what he is teaching me.