Monday, September 10, 2007
This photo has Raoul and Mirela, taken at our place in Timisoara a while back
About a thousand times this weekend, I've thought about this e-mail and how do I sum up this experience with Raoul in one paragraph? I realized I can't. If you know me well, you've heard his name over and over and I realize you'll continue to hear it. Bear with me.
My life in Romania is woven with a thread of him in almost every part. Timiosoara (our hometown here) is a place where every street, building or event flashes memories of "one more thing" about him. He was larger than life and filled the room. Never a dull moment and always ready for the next great thing. After the wake for him and Mirela on Saturday, all these former students we know were there trying to decide what to do next. I realized and said, "the problem is Raoul's not here to tell us what to do. He always knew what the next step was."
My heart is broken. I am still not completely believing this, although I know it is real. In life, if we're fortunate, we get a handful of people who we love deeply and with good reason. I got that in him. We buried one of my best friends yesterday. II always said, we were the odd couple. If you've been to Romania and was with us, you know that. It has (thankfully) been a very long time since death has slammed me so hard and harshly. We lost 3 dear friends.
Everyone is devastated. But, in a beautiful way, there was so much love evident. Lots of people freely grieving the lose of them. Right now, I can't say much else. Thanks for the dozens of e-mails to me for encouragement. Thanks more for the prayers. I knew there were 2 things I had to do. I had to see his parents and I had to bury him. Both were very hard but very important.
At the wake in the cemetery, I had my back turned, but Lisa saw Raoul's daddy notice me. He came running to get me. He grabbed me and held on and we cried together. He took me to the casket and to Raoul's' mother. In a broken, mumbling, teary Romanian, he keep telling "...If something happened to Raoul, Todd has to be here." This will probably define our friendship for me, that his parents wanted to see me this much. I'm so thankful they know I love him.
We took a night train last night, sleep a little (so the girls could sleep a lot), sent them to school and we've napped all morning. I'll be back in touch soon.