Better Late Than Never

Buckle up, friends. I had discontinued my telling of the Rise and Fall of Luke Inwood because we were handling all that Covid stuff. Spirits were low and I didn’t want to add to it, but… here we are. It’s time.

Speaking of time, I have had a number of parents tell me one of the things they are relishing during this period of Learning at Home is not having to fight every morning with their kiddos about getting up and getting out the door to go to school. Is this maybe one of the biggest battles we face with some of our children? Preach, sister! lol

I feel like you are either a morning person or a night owl from birth, and for kids who are night owls that daily struggle to wake up and get on a bus for school is excruciating. EXCRUTIATING, I say! I have detailed to eternity my daily routine of shaking Luke’s leg and my whole schtick I would go through to eventually get him on the bus. UGH. In those last years, either I was driving him to high school or he was driving himself, but despite our best efforts and intentions… he was ALWAYS late. Curse you, Dunks! Lol.

Now truth be told he usually wasn’t late by much. I don’t do tardy, so when I was his driver he usually slid into the lobby of Wachusett just on the bell or barely after. Minutes. When he was driving himself his number of minutes increased to ten. Consistently. It was like he was just a beat behind. If School started at 7:20, that boy would roll up at 7:30. Every day. But you know what, friends. He was THERE.

Unfortunately, there is no gray and no exceptions to the “You must show up at school on time” rule. If I remember correctly, and I may not, every three times Luke was late, he got a detention. And he was always late. Now let’s just think about this. How many detentions can one child serve? And to what point? And if they don’t serve, they go to Saturday school. No, it is not as glamorous and cool as the scenes you remember from the Breakfast Club, lol. And for our boy Luke… it was another brick in the wall.

I think you have probably come to some conclusions around what Luke looked like in a school environment and I think it is safe to say…. he didn’t look like the usual kid. But our school systems are SO RIGID, we can’t think outside the box and ask, how do we make this work for this child? He’s here, at least. Maybe we let the tardies go? Maybe we say no tardy unless he’s twenty minutes late? Flexibility? Unique cases consideration? Pshhh… That is not the reality of our school systems, friends.

In February of 2015 Luke was DROWNING in tardies and d-halls. DROWNING. When you hate school you can’t sit through classes all day and then be expected to sit through d-hall and then be expected to go to Saturday school on top of all that. John and I were concerned about Luke’s mental state and we wrote an email to the school hoping we could *figure something out*. There was no light at the end of the tunnel for Luke and we were desperate. Rules are rules are rules, Mr. and Mrs. Inwood. Sigh. Thank you for not helping.

The last Saturday in March, two weeks before he would die, Luke had Saturday school. I am sitting in my chair drinking my coffee when I realize the time is getting late and Luke is not going to make it to his d-hall. Because you can also be tardy to Saturday school, friends. They lock the doors and you can’t get in. See you next week, sucker. SO – I am panicked, because I am the MOM and panic is my job. I jump up from my chair, start yelling “LUKE, YOU’RE GONNA BE LATE!” at the top of my lungs and promptly smash my left foot into the hand weight that I had left in my path post-workout. True story. It is one ugly toe now, lol, but it makes me giggle and sigh every time I look down at it. Luke? He didn’t make it.

So here’s what I need you to know: I am a rule follower. Well, my boss will tell you I like rules that work for me, lol. But truly, I am the one you find walking between the lines. I do not suggest that we take individual circumstances into consideration lightly. I like my kids in a row at school, I want homework turned in on time, I want you to raise your hand if you have something to say. I like expected outcomes. Control. But what I have learned- in the years of raising Luke and then losing him – is that life is not a one size fits all experience. Kids have changed, friends. Whether we like it or not, they are more sensitive, more complicated. And we have to respond. Educators are taught to meet a child where they are academically and then work like hell to get them to where we need them to be. Why should it be any different for behavioral and mental health concerns? And I want to be clear, here. This is not a Wachusett thing. This is an everybody thing.

I am going to say when we know better we do better. And we damn well know better now, folks. If you are raising your own Luke Inwood, don’t just ask what can be done differently, demand it. #IHaveRegrets. If you are teachers or administrators, don’t be afraid to get out of the box and really, truly consider the needs of these special circumstances kind of kids. There are only ever one or two Luke Inwood kind of kiddos in a grade. They don’t need more discipline. They need help. I dream of a future where we identify each of these kiddos and meet them where they are. You might be only asking to add minutes to a start time, but it might just add moments to a life. #NotOneMore.

The FIrst Days

I Am a Rock…

A few individuals have crossed my path these past weeks, all of whom are struggling – struggling due to trauma, Covid19, heck, just LIFE. I have offered to help, as one does in these situations, but my services were declined. “I’m fine,” they tell me. “It’s okay.” “I’ll be alright.” And so I go on my way. But I have a nagging feeling in the back of my head, that perhaps this is not the whole truth.

Somewhere along the way we have been taught that it is weak or unacceptable to share our feelings or to ask for help when we need it. The goal is to appear strong and capable. Was I the only one taught that you don’t share your problems or your *dirty laundry* as it used to be called? I am not sure where all this managing on our own, or “faking fine” as I like to call it, has gotten us.

Trying to cope in challenging times makes me think about the people we love who have died from suicide. I spent countless nights wondering why Luke didn’t tell somebody he was hurting and needed help. So many of the things that weigh us down are not easily handled at seventeen. What kind of strategies does a teenager have? WHY didn’t he ask for help? I have been thinking about the doctor in New York who recently passed away, also from suicide. I can only imagine how overwhelmed with her job she was and what it would be like to be surrounded by so much sadness and suffering. I wonder if she told anyone how she was feeling or just carried on until… well, she couldn’t. Xxx

I would like to tell you I have become a master of asking for help when I need it, but folks, it would be a gosh darn lie. And I give help for a living! As a teacher and with Hope Lives Here, lending aid is my business. Accepting it? Not so much. The reality of this smacked me upside the head not so very long ago. Here’s the story.

John and I are away with friends one weekend in early Winter. We love these couples and have created some pretty fantastic memories over the years. On this given evening, we have been out all night eating and drinking and laughing our heads off. After I drive everyone home (’cause someone has to be the voice of reason, lol ) we are back at the ranch, as I like to say, and winding down. My girlfriend and I are sitting on the couch together and we get to talking about Lukester.

“I read every one of your blogs, you know, and well, I can’t believe that I never even knew some of those things were happening; that things were so hard with Luke.”

“I know,” I replied, well aware that I had kept things pretty closed up.

“We have this great group of friends here for you and we love you and yet, you’re an island,” she announced.

Cue the theme music…. –

I am a rock, I am an island

My friend’s pronouncement didn’t upset me because, well, she wasn’t wrong. Isn’t wrong, as not much has changed. I AM an island. I TRY to share, but it is damn hard, friends. And I think I feel the same emotions everyone else does that doesn’t want to ask for help:

I would rather do it myself.

I don’t want people to know what I am going through.

There is guilt with asking for help.

I don’t want others to think less of me for not being able to handle things.

Should I go on?

I get so upset when I hear about one of my lovelies going through something difficult and I don’t know about it. “What do you mean you lost your job?” or “What do you mean your parents are getting divorced?” or most recently, “What do you mean you just got back from rehab?” I chastise them and remind them I am here for them, but isn’t that the cat calling the kettle black? Of course they’re not talking or asking for help. Why should THEY be any different? We are a society of silent sufferers.

So here’s what I need you to know: Being vulnerable is quite possibly the most challenging of human emotions. It is the purest form of trust and being open. But if we are ever going to forge a generation that leans on one another instead of trying to handle all of life’s predicaments solo dolo, we need to change our mindset and we need to show the kiddos what it looks like. One of my favorite artists, Charlie Mackesy, has a print where a young boy asks his horse, his mentor – “What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?” And the horse replies, “Asked for help.” Brilliant.

So in the spirit of that, I am going to try to be more brave, more vulnerable, in the hopes that it might inspire one young lovely to ask for help when they need it most. My first step has been to try and find a few people that I feel can handle my darkest moments and I am working to be as honest as I can with them. Who will be yours? I also continue to be so grateful, to all of the people who ask me how I am doing… and really listen. Even if I’m not giving them the whole truth, lol. #Faking Fine. Lastly, I want to say thank you for the wake up call, my beautiful bestie. I am STILL an island, but at least now it has a landing pad where my friends can swoop in and save the day. With love, Xxx.

The FIrst Days

A Mother By Any Other Name…

Ah, Mother’s Day… for those of us who have lost a child or lost a mother… it is no easy day. But this year, I made an intentional choice to focus on what I HAVE instead of what I am missing. And friends, I have a lot.

I like to think about all the people in my life who have loved and nurtured me… like a good mom would…. like my mom did. As the old adage says, it takes a village. I have had teachers, bosses, and friends of the family who have encouraged me, and supported me, and picked me up after hard days. And what about girlfriends? My goodness! My ladies are incredible women who modeled what it is to be strong, and purposeful, and FUN human beings… as well as good mothers themselves. Heck, even my sister mothers me to death (in the very best of ways, lol)! Telling me what to wear or more importantly what not to, cheering me on with my teaching and non-profit, talking me off the proverbial ledge ( You’re alright! she likes to say). All of these important people, right there when I need them, surrounding me with love, accepting me as I am. Isn’t that the definition of a good momma?

I have been blessed with two boys to love. When they were little I slathered them with cookies and kisses and all the attention they would let me give them. I still do with Logan, lol, but at 20 he is a much harder sell. These days my love extends further than just those in the Inwood home. I love my students… UGH! So, SO much. I help them to grow and blossom and understand right and wrong – just like a parent. And we can’t forget my lovelies. Those freaking kids… now young adults… who let me check in on them and joke with them. Who stop by to visit and share a meal. Who let me get on my soapbox or give them much unsolicited advice. lol Are they not my *children*, too? We may not share a last name, but they have my heart forever.

So, on this Mother’s Day, let’s extend our definition of what a momma is. I asked my students this week what makes a good mom and the answers were priceless:

*A mom has to be kind.

*A mom has to be loving.

*A mom has to be fair.

*A mom shouldn’t have favorites.

*A mom should have personality. (I don’t know what this means, but it is HYSTERICAL!)

*Bake, a mom should be able to bake.

Definitely a list I can get behind. 🙂

So here’s what I need you to know: The role of mother is sometimes played by different people over the course of our lifetime. Just because yours is not a relationship of blood , doesn’t make it any less important. We need all our momma figures! May you remember and love on them today. And call, don’t forget to call! Moms, in all their forms, like that stuff. Xxx

The FIrst Days

This… This is My Life

Today I was the kickoff speaker for the Walk Out of the Darkness event at Sutton High School. I was incredibly honored to have been asked to share my story with folks who were walking, many of whom had not been touched by suicide themselves. I had never done anything like this before and I really wanted to get it right. I wanted to talk about Luke and yet still convey a message of Hope.

So I wrote my speech and I practiced. And practiced and practiced and practiced. I had two simple goals for the day: I didn’t want to sound *canned* and I didn’t want to cry. I know, I know. You’re thinking, “But Patty, you cry!” And you are not wrong, lol. Still! It was my goal. High school students do not want to see you cry, I kept telling myself. Only problem was every time I went through the words, I was having what I like to call a *moment*.

So what happened, you ask? What do you think? Sigh. I was making my way on the Zoom launch and feeling pretty confident and then… I don’t even know what words did it… but suddenly, I couldn’t speak. I was choked up and needed to gather myself. UGH! So I took a breath and finished off. For about ten minutes after the Zoom call had ended I berated myself a bit. In usual human behavior, I was focusing on what I viewed as the negative part of my experience instead of all of the good.

My woe did not last long because as I rehashed what had just happened.. the laughs at all the right spots, the tears from the listeners at all the right places, I remembered. Being a grieving momma is a sad thing. There are tears. A lot of tears. This…. This is my life.

Today is Bereaved Momma Day. It is a day to recognize all of us moms with children on the other side of the stars. As much as I appreciate the gesture – a day dedicated to grieving moms, the truth is… we don’t need one day. Every day should be bereaved momma day. Whether you have lost your child in utero, at seven, or seventeen, any time you outlive your child you are immediately thrown into the hardest journey one could even imagine. Actually, you can’t imagine it unless you have been there. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

So here’s what I want you to know: For those of you who have befriended a grieving momma, thank you for loving us and supporting us and crying with us. Thank you for sharing stories about our kiddos because we truly love to talk about our child. And if you are a mom missing part of your heart, I am with you. There are no words. Be gentle with yourself, today and every day. Rivers and roads. Xxx

The FIrst Days

The Upside of a Pandemic

Yes, you read that right. There is an upside to the Covid-19 pandemic. This truth came to me, as truth often does… out of the mouths of babes. My students have been writing journals during our time *Learning at Home*, as I like to call it. Each week they have been completing a prompt that asks them about their feelings around different things that have happened since this situation started in March. “How did you first hear about the Coronavirus?” and “What did you think when you heard school was going to be closing?” are two examples of the reflections students have been engaged in. (Thank you, Kristen Collins, for sharing this awesome project!)

This past week the kiddos have started writing about how their days have changed and subsequently, how they feel about these changes. As I read over their responses this weekend, I came across the expected comments about their struggles with trying to learn via Zoom and how much they missed their friends from school. A few are getting extra tormented by their siblings, lol. But what I also came across were the changes the students were enjoying, loving, and so happy were happening. It made me realize that sometimes we need kiddos to remind us of what is truly important.

I love that we are having dinner together at the table every night.

I used to have to do karate or dance every night and now I have more time to relax and watch T.V.

I get to wear my pajamas all day.

My mom and I have been baking a lot more.

I think the best thing is playing outside with my parents.

And my favorite –

I love that I get to spend so much time with my mom and dad.

So here’s what I need you to know: What a truth, friends! The children are happy that they get to slow down and spend more time with their moms and dads. I have always said that we are doing an excellent job of teaching our kiddos to be overscheduled and stressed out. Nothing better than a quarantine to show them firsthand what they have been missing, lol. Long, lazy days full of daydreaming and imagination harken me back to the summers of my youth. And weren’t those glorious times?! You could spend hours walking in the woods, or doing puzzles, or coloring, or helping your mom make dinner. Wait a minute! That’s exactly what they are doing NOW. 🙂

So as we head into the second half of our required Stay at Home period, maybe we remember what a gift this is.. for us and for the kids. I know how hard it is to juggle everything you have going on at your household, especially if you have littles. Maybe you aren’t going to win any productivity awards in May or even Teacher of the Year (dibs! lol), but maybe, just maybe, you make the Most Amazing Memories with your family. Our children just want to be with us. Who knew? 🙂

I am closing out with the sweetest dang video from Art Garfunkel featuring his family. Stay safe, friends. Xxx

Feeling groovy

The FIrst Days

There You Are

Yes, this past Tuesday was the worst. What’s that? You weren’t asking? lol. Well, I am sorry for throwing this bit of information out there, but it’s facts. It is a dreary day to begin with, obviously, but the Covid situation really amped up the *suckiness* of the moment. (Yes, Google, suckiness is a word. It is the act of being ultimately sucky. Quit underlining it in red, lol.)

People were very kind and reached out as best they could that day. There were a few cards and gifts; thoughtful momentos left at the cemetery; and many, many texts of love. It was all sweet and coming straight from someone’s heart in an effort to help, but I missed my people. I missed my family, and my friends, and the freaking kids. I REALLY missed the kids. And I get it. You don’t organize a car parade to come by and honk and make signs in a situation like this. Some might think that’s a little awkward. Well, most, lol. But the fact is, I needed the ruckus! The day crept by in silence… well, save my crying, and it is not the way we have ever marked April 14th.

Luke Inwood lived large and loud, my friends! It has always been fitting that we have had one hell of a party every year and I have always pictured Luke in a corner, his own beer in hand, smiling his ass off watching his Dad tell another great story to a room full of his friends, young and old. It is also not like Luke Inwood to fade quietly into the night. He is a KING, don’t you know, and I am sure his ego is thrilled when we gather in his name.

The Irish Funeral that laid Luke to rest also marked the beginning of the most incredible connections. I trust that my family and friends know what an important role they served in my healing. But those kids! Over the last few years I have had the honor of getting to know so many wonderful lovelies and they have moved in and found a permanent place in my heart. So when I couldn’t see them this year? UGH! There is a song by Vance Joy called Fire and Flood and it is my song for my lovelies. Every lyric speaks to how much I love them and have become used to having them in my life.

Since we met I feel a lightness in my step

You’re miles away but I still feel you

Anywhere I go there you are

Anywhere I go there you are

Late at night when you can’t fall asleep

I’ll be lying right beside you counting sheep

Anywhere I go there you are

Anywhere I go there you are

Toni, Billy, Paige, Fran, Dom, Thad, Maddy, Madi, Haley, Lauren, Berkeley, Sam, Eric, Marty, Brendan, Justin G., Cody, Ashley F. and Ashley J., Mike O’Toole, Camden, Danny J., all the Taylors, Rylee, Chris, Casey, Hannah, Olivia, Danny L., Justin S., Alex, and Beck. You are really, really, really good human beings. You have let me love you and hug you and be equal parts your friend and your bonus momma. I am lost when I don’t see you. You have made John and I incredibly happy and no matter how much time passes, whenever you show up at our front door, or stomp through the basement ’cause you’re fam and who uses the front door? lol, you will always be welcome. Forever.

So my friends, my family, my lovelies, I miss you all. And when this damn quarantine is over we will have a proper soiree. I will hug you, and squeeze you, and probably sing a note or two, lol. And we will remember our boy, Luke Inwood style, till the sun comes up. #NoAlabama.

Fire and Flood by Vance Joy
Okay… I just watched the video and Vance is way too melancholy. lol Sam Sjostedt, we need to make a video for this. There will be hugging. 🙂
The FIrst Days

Love Always, Always Love

So much time is spent over the course of a life trying to figure out the biggest of the big questions: What is the meaning of life? What is my purpose or destiny? And maybe most important – Why is life worth living?

Loss grants you the answer to that question, the answer to all those questions, in that moment when breath leaves your loved one and a hole tears open in your heart. It is Love. To Love and Be Loved is the Why behind everything. Just love.

So might I suggest we take the time to lay in bed every morning and think about five people who love us? Maybe it’s your mom, your spouse, your Grandpa, Fido, or even Miss Patty. 🙂 And as we smile making our list, let’s then get up and make it our mission to show and tell five people how much we love them. Spread love like sunshine, like sparkles. Fill our days with HUGS, with Selflessness. What if we spent our whole lives making love our purpose? What a world it would be.

Love outlives us all.

Love is all we need. Xxx

The FIrst Days

It is Year Five

In ten short days it will mark five years since we lost Luke. Five. Years. Truthfully, I have been a train wreck since January. When you lose someone you love, the reality is there are more hard days than good days, no matter how long it has been. They just get… less awful. Finding that video of Luke a few months back made him seem *here* again and after the newness and joy of it faded, the feelings around his absence grew more intense. Sigh. Such is grief.

It is Year Five and here I am. Waiting for The Day. In the past I have used the people around me who also loved Luke to bolster me up – our friend group, his friend group, Logan’s friend group. They come over that day and we hug and cry and laugh. We mostly laugh. And did I mention we hug? lol It is me after all. Most importantly, we lay eyes on one another, and in doing so, when we really look into one another’s eyes, we can check in on each other. I can look in their eyes and see if they are really doing okay; they can look in mine and know I never will be, but I am better, less tense, because they are there. One thing I know for sure, out of losing my boy, is that life is about showing up. Now with the Covid-19 pandemic, people can’t show up. So now what?

It is Year Five. Fives are things we celebrate, you know, under usual circumstances. They are the big birthdays we mark, the wedding anniversaries, the pounds we lose, lol. All counted by fives. And we throw parties and send cards to mark these occasions. But what do you do when it has been five years since you lost part of your heart? Before this whole shelter in place thing happened I thought maybe we would plan something and try and get the lovelies to join us. They have spread out and have lives of their own these days, you understand, but I thought maybe there was a chance we could do SOMETHING. But what now?

It is Year Five. My feelings are equal parts acceptance and what the actual f*#$. Just this week I was down at the cemetery staring at the dates on the back of Luke’s headstone wondering how the heck this has become my life. How did this happen? And yet, deep down, I know how far I have come since those first days. Since my Day One. Losing Luke shattered me, but I like to think of my heart like an old teacup that had the misfortune of being dropped one Sunday morning. You love it, so you take the time to glue it back together, as best you can, and place it back on the shelf. And so, too, is the condition of my heart: No longer in pieces, still able to fulfill its purpose, a little worse for the wear.

It is Year Five.


Anyone Can Do One Day

If Luke was to create a Top Ten list – David Letterman style – of Things That Irritate Me The Most, ‘Being Told What To Do’ and ‘Highschool’ would both jockey for the top position.

Getting Luke motivated and out of bed every morning was my job. He stayed up way too late, slept fitfully, didn’t use an alarm, and never once in the history of his life, popped out of bed eager to start his day, lol. I have written more than once about my role in getting Luke on the bus or in the car and on his way. Sigh. Good times.

During the course of my morning Luke routine, I got in the habit of cheerleading Luke by breaking down the school year into manageable bites. At first, it was fairly large bites.

“Only 3 months till December break, son. Anyone can do three months.”

I would encourage him and cajol him into thinking that he could manage his suffering for that length of time. Problem was, those timelines became insurmountable in his mind, as his ability to deal with the consequences and negativity in his life declined. Pretty soon I was reminding him that there are only five days in the school week and “anyone can do five days”.

In Senior Year, Luke was at his lowest and he was feeling crushed by his teachers and administration and schoolwork. With his hope at an all time low, I would go into his room in the morning, shake his calf to stir him a little, and when his eyes would finally peek open, I would give him the only piece of cheerleading I had left.

“Anyone can do one day, son. Six and a half hours. You can do it, sweetie.”

And he would. He would get up and get showered, grab his coffee, and go to Wachusett. He would greet his friends in the hall, sleep though a class or two, wander the halls, laugh through lunch. And at 2:10 pm, or whatever time they released the students, he would exhale and spend the next 12 hours doing what HE wanted. Chillin’ with friends, shooting hoops, gaming. At 6 am the next morning, it would start all over again. He kept doing One Day, One Day, One Day for seven months. I think it is a testament to his damn stubbornness that he got through for as long as he did, lol.

So here’s what I want you to know: We are just finishing our second week of the Coronavirus Quarantine. Social media is flooded with folks struggling to stay at home or struggling to stay sane in this new normal. As the experts caution that we may not peak for another month or so, I would like to suggest we take inspiration from the Luke Inwood play book to get through this time. Start your day by reminding yourself that anyone can do six weeks of this. Or, if you have to, you can break it down, to just the day. Because anyone can do ONE day. And if even the day is getting you down, like a rainy Sunday in Week 3, try and get yourself back to your happy place: maybe it’s listening to music, or reading, or television. Maybe it’s hiding under the covers for longer than usual. Whatever it is, IT’S OKAY. On the days when you are not feeling your best, you need to take the time to scale back and find the joy again. Now is not the time to be Superwoman or Superman and show the world how amazing you are and how much you can do. Breathe. Live simply. Put the joy first and the strength will come. And don’t forget – Anyone can do Just One Day. Or a series of Just One Days if that’s what you need. #HoldOn

I need you to know, Things that help

Johnny and Frank

In documenting what I fondly refer to as the Rise and Fall of Luke Inwood, there have been a post or two that have been difficult to write. Emotional. I knew this post would be that. I knew I couldn’t write about Luke in his last years without writing about his relationship with Eric. In truth, I don’t even know if I know HOW to write the story of Eric and Luke. And yet here I am. Forgive me, Eric, for minimizing what I consider to be one of the great love stories to exist between friends. Sigh.

Actually, the reality is, Luke and Eric were so secretive (Bro Code -you don’t tell parents ANYTHING), we didn’t really know the ins and outs of their relationship while Luke still walked the planet. I’m not sure I do now. The words I am about to share are MY perspective of Luke and Eric. What truly transpired between them is for them and them alone. And I’m okay with that. Xxx

How many faces do you recognize? 🙂

Luke and Eric were in Kindergarten class together. I love this pic of the group! Eric looks so stinking cute in that holiday sweater! He wouldn’t be caught wearing that now, I can tell you. lol. I post this to show their history; how far back they share memories and experiences. Luke and Eric were not besties at this age. Truthfully, Eric did not grace my door step until high school. Luke and Camden and Thad had been besties, but it wasn’t until Wachusett that Eric and Luke gravitated to one another.

It was girlfriends that got in the way of Luke’s relationships with Thad and Camden. As much as Luke never minded being a third wheel, lol, I am certain his friends did. 🙂 And so while his besties forged relationships with those of the female persuasion, Luke did not. And along came Reidy. Eric was single and the perfect foil to Luke – he was also (secretively) sensitive, loved to be philosophical, loved all things sarcastic, could court the dark side, and most importantly…. loved Luke. HA!

I can’t even begin to guess how many stories these two share. They did a lot of driving (remember Eric’s face from my Driving post a few weeks back? lol), went to a lot of parties, and spent many a night in our basement talking into the wee hours of the morning. Unlike the rest of our family, Luke was a social creature and didn’t like to be alone. Eric was the same, so the two of them fed this need for one another – to be included, to be heard. I think this post from Luke’s Twitter feed, showing how much he was in contact with Eric, shares the truth of it: for a while there, it was all Eric, all the time.

I think what I loved most about the two of them was their ability to dream big. They talked about getting rich and buying an island together so they could be Kings. They adopted larger than life personas – Eric was Frank Sinatra, Luke was Johnny Cash – to define themselves by. Eric – suave and citified; Luke – the Man in Black – just a little bit naughty and not giving a damn what people think. Who knew how true both those tags would be.

Black Friday Shopping with Eric

One of my favorite Luke and Eric stories actually transpired the Easter before Luke passed away. As in two weeks before. Eric and Luke were out driving. Well, technically, Luke was driving and Eric was yelling out his window at the kids playing outside asking them if “they wanted any candy”. Cue the head shake, lol, but you see now why these two were so perfect for each other? IDIOTS lol. Back at the house we’re entertaining family when all of the sudden the phone rings and it’s a family friend who is also a POLICE OFFICER. Someone has reported these two jack-in-the-boxes!! Thankfully, the officer has vouched for the boys and assured the family who called it would be handled. I immediately stomp outside to where the boys are sunning on the deck and rip them a new one. They both are giggling and amused with themselves and when I look at Eric and say, “There’s a lesson to be learned here, you dorks.” He replies, ” I did. I learned it’s good to have friends with friends in high places.” AARGHHHH!!! I have to admit I smiled as I made my way back inside and I had to concede, he wasn’t wrong. 🙂

I started this post by saying this might be one of the great love stories of all time, you know, in this momma’s mind. I feel I know how important Eric was to Luke because I saw it – I saw how he wasn’t as happy when he was alone and Eric saved him from that. I know how important Eric was to Luke because he practically lived at my house for almost three years. I miss his damn paper towels strewn about the basement because he is allergic to everything – including our cats. I miss hearing the two of them talk non-stop for hours and hours and hours. I miss Eric’s Arnold Horshack laugh floating up the stairs. I also miss their silence. ‘Cause they got each other and could do that, too. I miss Eric coming up the stairs and barely acknowledging that the Inwoods existed. lol Because he really wasn’t there for anyone but Luke. I think the truest testament of their relationship is that there are hardly any pictures of the two of them together. One, because they both thought selfies were bullshit, lol, but mostly because they were living. Just being teenagers, you know? And that Eric gave that to my boy… all those memories? That Luke sits on the other side of the stars… fueled by tales of late nights and road trips to God knows where with Eric, well…. I have no words. Only a heart full of love. Lastly, I know how important Eric was to Luke because, well, he was on his note goodbye… He really loved you, Eric. Don’t forget it. Xxx

I keep telling Eric that writing about Luke could be the Next Great American Novel. Maybe for his birthday I will buy him an old fashioned typewriter and a pack of cigs and wait to see what happens….

The Rise and Fall