Whomever I was pleading to was obviously, not listening...
It has been a week since my friend, Marty, died. Marty is the first of my childhood friends to die (as an adult). It was shocking, beyond measure and I'm still not really letting it all sink in. So, I want to talk about Marty.
I first met Marty when I was 10 years old. I joined an acting group and he was one of the 'techies' who helped run the shows. He was 7 years older than me, but he might as well have been 40 in my childish head. I saw him on my first day and thought he looked scary. He was a BIG guy and the first time I saw him, he was not smiling and was looking quite serious. I decided to avoid him.
Through the years there, I learned that Marty was quite the opposite of scary. He had a booming laugh, he was kind and gentle with all the kids (including the baby of one of the other staff members - someone shared a great story at his funeral of him, giant, hulking Marty, holding little baby Bryan and carrying him around, looking completely content). Marty gave the best hugs.
We lost touch over the years, but a few years ago, someone got a yahoo group together for the theater and we set up a huge reunion at a farm a few summers ago. I took Zack with me and he had the same reaction to Marty when he first saw him - mouth-opened awe of the giant black man who came running towards his mommy :) Marty scooped up my then over 200 lb ass and gave me a giant hug. He then bent down, eye to eye with Zack, to introduce himself. Zack gave him a high five and ran off to play with the other kids.
Marty and I stood around for a few minutes, catching up. He looked exactly the same. 40 something years old and he looked the same as he did when we were kids. He hadn't gotten married or had kids, but he was soon to reunite with another cast member, who would end up being the love of his life. I still smile when I think about them together.
The last few years, we saw each other a couples times a year at get togethers. I could always count on Marty to be there and give me a great hug. He made my friend Kara so happy and they soon became engaged. The group moved to Facebook and we all spoke quite a bit on there.
A few weeks ago, Marty had the flu. No big deal. A few status messages here and there - then Kara posting that she was going to go ahead and take him to the ER. They didn't have health insurance, so I knew he had to be pretty sick for them to do that. But, no alarms went off - figured he had the flu, or pneumonia or something.
Within 24 hours, he was being taken into surgery and then...he was in a coma. What? How was this happening?
It was not until the very end of his life that I found out exactly what had happened. Apparently, he had developed a strep infection and it had spread through his body. He had two separate surgeries to remove infections on his leg. But the damage was already done and his heart stopped during the 2nd surgery. He was on life support for over a week. His brain was swollen, his kidneys weren't working.
Some of our friends went up to see him (and to help take care of Kara, who was devastated, but still had hope). Then, the more serious updates. EEGs were coming back showing low brain activity. Friday, April 2nd the last one came back as him having "very little" brain activity and we knew this was it.
Thankfully, I was able to switch my shift on Saturday the 3rd and my friend Lisa drove us up to PA to see Marty.
I was not prepared for seeing someone on life support. It is not as they show in the movies and tv, as cheesy as that sounds, but it's not. It was very loud. He would cough. His eyes opened and he looked around. I thought "well, then he's obviously not dead" but it was simply a reflex. A very disturbing reflex, but a reflect none the less.
We sat with Marty and Kara. We talked to him and hugged him. But he didn't hug back. It was awful. I hugged him so tightly, I made him cough. I felt bad, but it made Kara laugh, so I stopped feeling bad about it. I wish we could have stayed with him longer, but I had to go to work.
They turned off the machines shortly after we left and he died 12 hours later.
This giant, hulk of a man...gentle teddy bear at heart...a man so full of life...now he's dead and I still can't wrap my brain around it. I wanted to go to his wedding. I wanted to convince Kara and they should have a baby together (she has 2 daughters already). David said later that Marty was one of those people that he wished he could have gotten to know better. I wish that, too, honey. They have the same seriously warped sense of humor and would have gotten along great.
The funeral was Saturday. It was awful, even though there were lots of shared stories and laughing, it was the finality of it that really got to me. There he was, in a casket. He really is dead. It's not a dream, or a joke. I saw so many of my friends crying that day, openly sobbing for the loss of their friend. It breaks my heart to think about it.
This is something that we all have to go through, unfortunately - the loss of a friend. I just thought it wouldn't happen until we were all a lot older.
So rest in peace, dear Marty. There are so many people here who love you and miss you. We will always remember you.