Mid December Madness
When I was in high school I was in band. I will admit to being a band geek, if you were in band you must face the fact that you were on at least some level a band geek (there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a fact). Regardless of the “geek” status my experiences with band were mostly positive. During my four years in high school band we were a mostly close knit family of friends. In fact several of those friends I keep in touch with today. We worked hard together, we laughed together we even cried together. The crying is what brings me to this particular event. December 19, 1994. This was the first weekday of Christmas break. I was a sophomore, 15 years old. I think 3 of my friends had spent most of the weekend at my house hanging out, playing video games, watching movies, typical teenage boy stuff.
Sometime early that afternoon the phone rang, it was a band parent. I believe that particular parent thought on the phone that they were talking to one of my parents and not to me. A band member had been killed in a car crash that morning. Windy Wyatt was gone, a junior, flute player, member of the color guard, a friend. She had perished in a single car crash on hwy 393, just a few miles from school. I had just spent part of that Friday talking with Windy in the band room before the bell rang signaling the end of school for two weeks. What it was that we talked about I can’t recall now, I simply remember that she had spent some time with me and some other friends. I can’t say we were extremely close, but we were friends none the less.
Of course the funeral and a memorial service followed such sadness and loss so close to the day of the year that was normally for most of us so happy. I can remember much of the details like they were yesterday even though it was nearly 17 years ago.
Obviously this type of event affects any normal human being, but it probably does even more so during those turbulent years of adolescent development. I can remember I wrote several papers in English class for years to come reflecting on the events that unfolded during this time (and obviously I’m writing about it again today in this blog for the first time in 15 years). This was the first and only time in high school a friend of mine would pass away. Those who make it through their school years without experiencing such loss should consider themselves lucky.
Flash forward a year later to 1995 and I began what was the longest “relationship” of my teenage years. Somewhere around this same weekend I began dating the same girl I would date for the rest of my high school career and into the first semester of college. We went to the prom together, oh those magical days when you think you’re inseparable and you know you’ll spend together forever. Most high school romances seldom workout to be forever. Mine certainly didn’t. She moved to Florida a few months after I graduated, we had of course all manner of differences and obviously we just weren’t meant to be. So sometime in this same week of weirdness, nearly two years to the day after we had first “officially” gotten together, we split sometime in mid December of 1997.
Needless to say I was devastated at the time. Most of my close friends had left and gone to school far away. I had a limited social network with which to lean upon. Further my own little world that I had built around her being a part of was suddenly shattered; I was unattached, undating for the first time in two years. For most of my high school career I’d had a girlfriend on my arm. Now I was in college, things were different, I was different, it would take me a long time to recover from this, but the good news is I came through it better than ever.
When I was twenty three I started my own business, shooting photographs at racing events and at weddings (a strange combo I know but I had a knack for both). I was a good photographer and a decent writer. At that time I wasn’t nearly as good of a business man. I made several egregious errors. I chalk those up to being naive and knowing too little about the actual day to day operations of a business. On December 13, 2004 my business folded for good, it was finished and I walked away from that chapter in my life. The monster of mid December madness claimed yet another victim, my dream of working for myself and doing what I loved.
I still shoot photographs, I do the occasional wedding. I also consult and provide photo services for attorneys. I just do that work on the side. Sometimes work requires my photography skills and it’s nice to step away from my desk with a camera and do something different for a few minutes. Occasionally I take on a project just for me, for fun. If you’re reading this blog then by now you understand that I still write. I had almost forgotten for a few years how much I truly enjoy getting my thoughts on paper. I had forgotten too how much fun it is to be behind the lens of a good camera.
December 17, 2004 is to date the most memorable and important day of my life. It’s the day I married my best friend, the love of my life, my Sydney. We fell in love quick, meeting on Derby day in May of that year. We were engaged in July and married that December. She loves to recall that I gave her two options when she asked what I was thinking about a wedding date, Christmas Break or Spring Break (she’s a teacher). She said something along the lines of “well I don’t want to wait let’s get married Christmas Break”.
So on a chilly Friday night in December at Duncan Memorial Chapel in Crestwood, KY we said our “I do’s” in front of only family and a handful of very close friends. Her face as she walked down the aisle is forever burned into my memory. Our lives together just seem to get better and better every year. The madness lost this one, instead we get a happy day and that makes all the times the madness took a day as it’s victim seem less sad.
As I write this today, December 14th, my little sister has just given birth to her second son. She and her husband are celebrating the birth of little Micah, 6 lbs, 10oz, 19” long. A healthy little boy, with two very happy parents and one probably anxious big brother, sitting here writing this I can’t wait to meet Micah for the first time.
It is worth mentioning too that while it was not mid December, it was on December, the 5th of 1996 that my niece Kaelin was born. Kaelin was the first grandchild for my parents and thus my first niece. Her father (my brother Dan) and I were always really close as I grew up even though he is nine years my senior. I spent a lot of weekends at Dan and Sherry’s house playing with little Kaelin, feeding her curly fries from Arby’s as a toddler, though most of the time she licked the ketchup off and handed me back a soggy and cold fry. Kaelin’s birth and the time I spent with her when she was little are some of the brightest memories I have of my teenage years.
I should also say that I don’t believe some cosmic phenomenon, or supernatural force is at work or just chooses to pray upon my life at this time of year. It’s only been in recent years that I’ve noticed the correlation between these events and the calendar. I just find it interesting and something worth writing about. I’m not out for sympathy or shock value, there are certainly those who have endured far worse around the holidays than I have. That said I just want to stress that this blog is more about the unusual relationship between the dates of these major occurrences in my life, rather than a “woe is me”.
Whatever the mid December madness brings, it would seem that it’s quickly piling up the happy over the sad these days and that my friends is the reason why I don’t mind all the memories good and bad of this time of year. The secret is to remember the lessons of the hard and sad times but to focus more intently on the joy of the happy ones.