“Be careful,” were the words of my father every time I left the house. I had always shrugged it off like any ordinary twenty-one year old would. How did I know that some day soon I would have wished I hadn’t ignored his advice, or at least realized the meaning behind his best intentions?
It was around “the time of giving” and “good spirits.” Many joyous enlightenments of Christmas cheer filled the air lingering those last anxious days before Christmas morning, it was December 22, 2005. One of those nights where snow sparkled like crystallized diamonds from the streetlights, leaving it the perfect night for a celebration toast to a cherished friendship. Not just any friendship, but an unbroken, seven solid years strong, regardless of the significant miles we spent apart.
The primary bar of the night we attended consisted of a local bar where familiarity for those of us in Livonia, Michigan seemed considerable. With inexpensive drinks and a jukebox exploding with our favorite songs, it kept my “cherished friend” Rob awaiting his requested song, Polly by Nirvana, to play before him relocating to another bar was optional. Rob had given us the approval to carry on to the other bar, that he’d catch up with us later on… so we proceeded our way to the next bar.
As we were leaving, I clearly remember looking at him long and hard, reading his lips, and his words replayed in slow motion in my head; “go ahead, I’ll be fine.” I can’t quite elaborate why it replayed in my memory as much as it did, but after he caught up with us and once everyone had left, I shared the scenario with him. Rob had laughed it off, so free from care, so light-hearted. The night went on for the two of us, two re-united strong-willed friends, having an unforgettable time reminiscing.
After the long night toasts, laughs, and catching up concoctions my body’s chemical reaction gave me this strange sensation. I couldn’t decipher whether the warm and bubbly feeling was the liquor’s finish, or if it was the untainted pleasure of an old friends’ company. Whatever I felt, slow motion had taken over.
It was time to close up shop and head back home, but obviously neither of us were in the right mindset to operate a vehicle. Rob’s uncle lived a couple blocks away and he stated he would drive cautiously there to stay the night, therefore I dialed up my brother to come drive me home. What happened next was one thing a night out at the bar could never cure.
A phone call awoke me from my sleep the next morning, a phone call that to this day seems surreal.
“Shawn, this is Derek, Rob Owens was killed in a car accident last night.” I remember instantly crying, trying to grasp reality and awake from this horrible dream, but there was no awakening from reality.
Things rushed through my head of the night before, thinking everything would’ve been alright, and then everything our seven years of friendship had given me.
My father’s words “be careful” came to memory somewhere, somehow in the field of emotions. I finally had taken into consideration that those words were not just words, and not only for oneself. From then on it had taught me many things. Not only to be careful of what I take part in, but what everyone around me takes part in as well. Listen to your father’s advice; he does speak from years of experience and life long lessons. So from him to me, and me to you, “Be careful” out there.
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