It’s Been a Long Day

People always say that you don’t get to pick your family. I disagree.

When I was six years old, a family with three little girls moved into the house next door. My mother was thrilled. Being the only girl with four older brothers, my hobbies had become making and eating mud pies, getting into fights on the playground (yes, in Kindergarten), and looking at trashy magazines with the boy across the street. My mother saw these three little girls hop out of their mom’s Vanagon and forced me (kicking and screaming) to go introduce myself.

She had no idea they would become my sisters, that I would fall so deeply in love with them, that their mother would become a second mother to me, that their father, one of my favorite people, would influence my sense of humor for the rest of my life. Nor did she ever imagine that the oldest of the three would turn out to be my soul mate, my person, my best friend of thirty years (and counting).

We were inseparable, the four girls on our block. We spent every weekend night together, staying up until ungodly hours playing dress up and rock stars and barbies when their dad would finally come in and in his deep gritty voice tell us to go the hell to bed. We learned life together. As we grew older, our friendships grew with us, and we held each other’s hands through shopping for our first bras, then first kisses, then teenage heartbreak. We applauded each other’s successes and cried together when things went wrong.

When we were seventeen, our world changed forever. On February 29, 1996, we had our first baby. As scared as we were for our sister to become a teenage mom, we had her back. We knew that together we could make this work, and we did. A little boy entered our lives and changed everything. He was all the things a first baby is. Confusing, adorable, funny, exhausting, and he was ours. He brought a new life into our world, a sense of wonder and excitement. We took turns babysitting him and watched as he grew from a chubby little brown eyed baby to a sweet little boy who at seven years old announced to us that he would one day become a paleontologist.  And we believed him.

We all grew up, went to college, moved to different towns, got married, etc. But we managed to get together as frequently as possible, and when we did/do, it was/is as if time never passed.

Then one day, our world changed again. Shattered for a minute. And an hour. And a lifetime.

Our baby was gone.

Just like that.

A car crash.

My pseudo baby sister lost her first born child a few months after he turned eighteen, just a few weeks prior to his high school graduation.

No words can help because they can’t bring him back. No flowers or cards or hugs or good thoughts make any kind of difference because he’s still gone, and my sweet friend who I love as if she shared my blood will never be the same again.

And there’s no word for her. There’s no widow or widower or orphan. She’s just a woman, a mother with a permanent hole in a heart that will never beat the same again. But she’s more than that to me. She’s my family, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about her or him.

Please watch this video all the way to the end as a tribute to this amazing kid that was taken from us far too soon.

“Guys,one day we’re all gonna die, so have fun, and have fun the way YOU want to have fun. Don’t listen to anyone else. Word up.”  Thomas James Gomez-Reddish (February 29, 1996 – May 6, 2014)


53 thoughts on “It’s Been a Long Day

  1. People say this all the time, Mandi, because it’s something to say. I hope you believe that I mean it with every ounce of love and good I possess…

    I am so sorry you have to feel this, think about this, and watch your friend suffer. That you lost someone who was also a part of you.

    And all the good energy I have is dedicated right now to your lifelong friend with a hole in her heart that can never be filled. And to you and that young man’s many friends and family.

    Devastating story.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. It won’t let me watch the video, but I can’t express how this makes me feel. There’s no word for this either. Feelings of sadness and wanting to hug an entire group of people you’ve never met while knowing it will do nothing other than be a hug.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is heartbreaking. There’s nothing I can say or do for my friend to make it better, but I thought maybe at the very least, I could honor him here, in my little corner of the universe.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Mandi, I am so, so sorry. I send you and your sisters my hugs and hold you all in my thoughts and prayers. I am almost relieved that I couldn’t watch the video (it says, “This video is private.”), for I could see myself crying while watching it.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I watched, and he is beautiful…and he lives on – his spirit will remain with you all, and in his memory and for his sake, you all will do wonderful things to nurture each other and to help and support one another, and he won’t ever be gone, not really, because you’ll keep loving the young man that he was…you don’t ever really lose someone like that.

    The spit-bubble picture made me laugh, and I’m so grateful it was in the montage.

    And yes. Fun. He has a good message.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I cannot begin to imagine the intensity of the pain this young man’s mama must feel…to this day. This is terribly sad and my greatest fear. The video was a beautiful tribute, as were your words. I imagine you hurt, too. For the loss of a life that was far too short and his mother, who you love. I’m so very, very sorry.


  6. I have to tell you something hilarious. Usually I catch up on my blog reading during my lunch break, unfortunately it turns out I can’t look at your blog because my work classifys your page as PORN hahahahaha. I have to wait until I get home and shamefully read it in the dark by the glow of my laptop screen 🙂


  7. I’m sitting here in a coffee shop reading this and watching the video with tears in my eyes. Yeah, even tough guys cry sometimes. So sorry for her loss, and for all your loss. The good die way too young at times. Such a nice post to remember him by.


  8. Oh gosh, first time visiting you, and I end up crying. But it was a worthwhile cry honouring that young man’s memory. So happy though that you and your loving soul sisters have had each other through all of this. My deepest condolences.


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