Rock of Ages

“It’s better to burn out than fade away.” -Def Leppard

I have seemingly taken an unintentional break from blogging but felt compelled to get some thoughts down while they are fresh on my mind. The topic tonight? The one that scares us most-the big D. Not THAT D-get your minds out of the gutter. I am talking about death. I know that’s not always a topic folks are super jazzed about but hang with me here-I promise I won’t make this a sniffly snot fest. 

My beautiful Breakfast Club crew lost one of the “Fab 4 +Lance & Scott” recently and it has been a real gut-punch for all of us. If you aren’t familiar, these friends are the ones I leaned on hard after my engagement in my late 20’s crumbled and I was in a state of hurt, anger and disbelief. Let’s look over the fact that EVERYONE in my life was less than surprised by this outcome. Blinded by love is a real thing and I was clearly on a Ray Charles kinda level. All I can say now is bullet dodged as I can assure you I would have been a Swiss cheese slice had this not unfolded as it did. 

I digress, the Fab Four + the boys were my lifeline to getting my happiness and confidence back. We had many, many late nights out in the Queen City that left our feet sore and heads aching but our hearts full and tummies sore from laughing. The Breakfast Club, a dingy little hole-in-the-wall that specialized in sticky floors and great 80’s music, was our regular center of shenanigans. It was one of the non-pretentious spots in Charlotte where it didn’t matter what you wore or who you were-you just felt at ease there.

We had many Sicilian Kisses (thinking these are amaretto and so co?) and usually closed that joint down, ending many a night in the wee hours of the morning with “I Had the Time of My Life”. Those nights and people were the best of my 20’s and bonded us in a special way. Since then we have been through marriages, kids, heartbreak, joy, etc. and life pulled us in different directions at times. 

We were pulled close again by the one thing we never wished-the big D. Lance was our wild card but we loved that about him. He was funny, charming, and a ladies man to say the least. We never knew when he would show up or who he may be with. He always had a story and it was guaranteed to make you laugh. He and I shared a love of nature and exploring so our conversations were often about dreams of where we wanted to hike, what countries we wanted to see, and how those experiences change who you are.

The thing I could never pin down about Lance-he always seemed…unsettled in a way. Like there was something he was searching for but just couldn’t quite find to make him wholly content. The journey of this life-sometimes we have it together (or think we do) then we realize we have lots more to learn and grow from. 

I got to spend a little time with Lance when friends and I visited Arizona (he moved there during covid) and talked about how I should bring Daniel back and we could do some hiking in Sedona since the snow we got that trip, while rare and gorgeous, put a damper (nay, a screeching halt) on my vortex hikes I was so excited about. I am so sad we will never get that opportunity. He had a mountain bike accident recently and was taken from us far too soon. Since then, our group has had moments of disbelief, grief, laughter and have shared so many amazing memories we have of our time with him and each other. Those memories are bittersweet but none of us would trade them for the world. 

We honored our fallen comrade by donning some Def Leppard/rock-n-roll gear at his celebration of life since Joe Elliot and crew were his favorite band. It’s 100% impossible to hear “Hysteria” and not think of him and smile. It was literally blaring out of his car speakers ALL THE TIME. It made us happy as we knew he would approve of our outfit choices. 

His departure was unexpected and I am sure this lead to a rush to figure out arrangements, what to do and how to handle celebrating a life ending far sooner than anyone could have imagined. While I loved our tribute to him, his celebration of life left me feeling disconnected from him and who he was. So much so that not only did I not cry, I felt oddly empty inside. If you know me, you know crying is something I am likely too good at. I have a huge heart and I cry for people I don’t even know. I deeply feel the emotions of others and it can be both a blessing and a curse. 

I felt so “off” that on the way home, I blared Def Leppard most of the way and cried until my nose was red from blowing it and I looked two days hungover. I know some folks would actually prefer to not become a sobbing spectacle in public but I expect it for myself and maybe even need it to just release all those feels. 

I say all of this tonight for two reasons-to pay homage to a friendship that I valued and should have lasted so much longer and also reflect on how unprepared we are for events like this. How unprepared I would be to let anyone know how to handle my departure from this earth should it happen unexpectedly. I am not talking about my assets, necessarily, but more how I want to life to be remembered and celebrated.

Listen, I hope none of this shit matters and I live to a wrinkly old age, having experienced all of my bucket list travels, experiences and goals. BUT if for any reason I don’t, I need you (my friends and fams) to take notes and be sure ya’ll know all of the things. 

Let’s start with the basics-I do not want to be tucked away in a casket, mausoleum or other claustrophobic man-made structure. Hug me adios, give my good bits so someone who needs them then cremate me-I want to be scattered in beautiful places of nature that were calming to my soul. Mostly at home in the mountains of the Blue Ridge but also maybe a bit in the Tetons since I feel they will always have piece of my heart. If you wanna keep a bit and make me into a ring or necklace I am down but you better wear that gem on regular rotation-do not leave me in a jewelry box or I vow to haunt you until you see the error of your ways. 

I saw a weird segment on a show about a woman who was addicted to eating her late husband’s ashes-don’t even think about it as I have no desire to make the amazing human journey through your intestines and be poo’d out. I hope that disclaimer is not necessary but you just never know.

As for the pomp and circumstance, a celebration of life would be fitting. It doesn’t have to be rushed because immediately after a death, folks are emotionally exhausted and don’t need the stress of figuring it all out. Take some time for yourselves first. I want something non-stuffy and true to my personality. Have it somewhere laid back. Play songs you know I loved (side note-I loathe East Bound and Down but the episode where Kenny Powers walks up to his friend’s graveside service and interrupts by playing “Far Behind” by Candlebox is the kind of friends I need here), have some food and beers, share all of the photos I have amassed as ya’ll know I love photography and capturing memories.

DO NOT turn it into an opportunity for a sermon. There will be no “now is the time to make your dedication to the lord”, “hell will not be fun” or any other southern baptist urge to make it about their opinion of what folks need to do. If you know me, you know I am not that girl nor do I believe in guilting anyone into believing anything. I am, and always likely will be, a freer spirit than that and find beauty, love and value in many religions, belief systems and philosophies. If you need a traditional sermon to feel better about my death, please go to church, mass, the forest, etc. and do whatever it is that gives you comfort but I want my life to be celebrated by folks telling stories about special times we spent together, crazy adventures we had, and how we impacted each others’ lives. Laugh, cry, get mad…just be true to who I was and what I cared about. Take the money you would have spent on funeral flowers or a preacher and donate to a humane society. Adopt a dog. Give back in some meaningful way in my honor. Make sure my pups are loved on and are safe and sound with someone who will adore them as I do. Take care of my family. Love on each other a little more and hug each other a little tighter. Remember each day is a gift. 

The moral of the story, my loves? Who knows. Just random things on my mind. My goal is to experience the crap out of this life and I hope to be doing it for many many manyyyyyy years to come. More time for friends, family, love, adventures, margarita + pj movie nights, seeing all the beauty the world has to offer, etc. 

I know Lance loved life and embraced the beauty yet difficulty of starting over, learning new things and continuing to grow. I hope he knows how much he was loved and that we will have a giant Lance-sized hole in the now Fab 5 but will keep his spirit alive through the memories we made and the way we know he will continue to have last laughs over hilarious events that unfold from his perch somewhere watching us. We feel sure he has made insta friends with everyone (especially the ladies) in his new digs and is smiling big at us talking about his electronic devices, glazed donuts, ex-girlfriends as his funeral, etc.

Love you, friend.

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