Monday, November 10, 2008

The Chocolate Cake Man

I've been a bit absent and distracted lately. A very good friend of mine that I've played poker with almost every weekend for the past two years passed away last week. I can't remember if I've talked about my poker shenanigans, but Gene and I are poker players... and we have a group of about 20+ that we get together with and play at various friends' houses on Saturday nights. We spend holidays with these people, and in a weird way we're a (very dysfunctional) family. Gene and I are the youngest in our group by about 10 years... and these people really helped me a lot when I moved to Delaware and had literally no friends. All of my friends were still in college, in NYC, or in LA... so I was very alone in this tiny state. Most of our poker locations are in Jersey and around an hour and a half away, which I know is crazy, but I really love these people and would do a lot for them.

Gene and I carpooled with our friend Rich (whom we all called the chocolate cake man) and his fiancee Deb, because they were from Delaware as well. We'd take turns driving, we'd talk about baseball, and we got very close with these two over the past two years. Spending four hours every weekend in a car will do that. The four of us actually dressed as a group for Halloween last year. Rich was Fred Flintstone. He had a lot going for him right now. He had three beautiful little boys. Gene and I recently went to go see Clone Wars with Rich and his boys. The movie was GOD AWFUL, but we had fun because of the company. We were able to laugh at how BAD it was together. I got roped into it because I thought we were going to see the Counting Crows. Clone Wars is not the same as the Counting Crows (In my defense, that same day, the Counting Crows and Maroon 5 were playing in Camden... and Rich was a HUGE Maroon 5 fan. And Gene and I LURVE the Counting Crows. And we had talked about going together. It's a simple mistake, right?). Rich and Deb had just gotten engaged.. and they recently set a date. December 5th. And Rich had just bought Deb tickets for the final game at Texas Stadium in Dallas to see The Cowboys. They're both Cowboys fans. You know that he was a good friend if Gene and I, rabid Eagles fans, can spend a lot of time with a Cowboys fan. Who was a Mets fan to boot.

I really miss him. And I'm sorry that this post is a bit sad, but it's helping me to talk about it. It's really funny, because if someone had said to me a month ago that Rich was going to have a heart attack, I would be sad. I had no idea it would affect me like this. It took every ounce of strength I had in me on Thursday when Deb called me to not vomit. I went to work on Friday... and was a complete zombie. I couldn't cover the receptionist desk because I was afraid I was going to break down and just sob. I've been a lot better lately... although I did have a lapse at lunch. When my grandmother died, I often still talked to her. But I couldn't still talk to Rich. I did for the first time today. I also erased him from my cell phone, which was really hard. I know it's really stupid that it got me so upset, but it did. It was as if by erasing him from my phone, I would forget him.

On Saturday, all of our group (the Quorum as we call ourselves) got together to have an honorary game. Rich would have been pissed if something he did caused us not to play--pissed at himself for messing up everyone's evening. So we dealt him in, we all said some really nice stuff (and told some funny funny stories.. like the time he got arrested and the group had to bail him out of jail for running a stop sign...and having an outstanding speeding ticket he forgot existed). Rich won the tournament. Instead of giving money for 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.. we collected all the money and bought flowers for the service, which is tomorrow. I called the florist a few hours ago, and we are getting a lot of really nice flowers for the guy. I feel like there should be something else that I should do, but I can't imagine what.

Rich was a guy who when you first met him, he bugged the hell out of you. He was stubborn, and abrasive, and loud. And he loved you with everything that he knew how. Once you got through that bold personality, he was such a teddy bear...who gave the best hugs. He'd do whatever you needed to do. When Gene and I almost got one singular World Series ticket the day that we had Eagles tickets, Rich offered to drive to Philly (from Maryland) pick me up from the stadium, and take me home. We didn't ask. He and Deb called Gene and I "The Kids." And the guy was always good for a really nice chocolate cake. I could really use a piece now...


Tenacious Tess said...

You will be numb for a long time. I think that's the best way to describe it, numb. There will always be this little nicked piece of you heart because he was so close, but the numbness isn't as bad after a few months. I don't think it ever completely goes away either, or at least that hasn't been the case with me. I'm sorry for your loss.

*Di said...

I was so excited that I had a follower already! Thanks for commenting. I'm starting to go back through some of your posts (at work... oops). Keep in (blog) touch!