March 11, 2017

 

Me and the boys and Autumn and Rae went to the resort to arrange Luke’s celebration of life. That’s what they called it. 46 years of living and you get a celebration of life. Luke’s dad paid for everything. $3300.00. We got the ballpark package. We thought he would like that. Sliders, hot dogs, pretzels, fruit and cake. We had an open bar. The kids all said you would want that. I dont think it’s appropriate but they won this one.

We picked a room right on the lake. The kids were laughing about how fancy it is and picturing you walking through there with all your tattoos.

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March 10, 2017

 

We are going to the mortuary today. Luke’s dad and step mom are meeting us. Luke’s dad sees us all and starts to cry.

We all go into a room to discuss Luke’s cremation. It’s $2,300. I want them to break down the cost. Luke’s dad says it doesn’t matter because he is paying. It matters to me. They shouldn’t take advantage of people at the worst time in their life.

They tell me the ride from Gilbert’s to the mortuary was $600.00. It’s 7 miles. I am appalled. I tell the boys if I die at home they are to call an Uber for me. $115.00 to wheel Luke’s body from one side of the mortuary to the other? I tell him I will push his body there for them before I leave so they could take that cost off. $115.00 for refrigeration? Ridiculous. I am so angry. The guy going over the costs for me is trying tell tell me that I can’t wheel Luke around the building. The kids and Luke’s parents start laughing. They all think I’ve gone over the edge, I’m sure of it.

Drew went out to the car. He knows his dad is in here, dead, and he cant sit in here any longer.

Luke’s parents leave. Me, Beau, Wyatt and Rae want to see Luke one last time. They take us to a hallway and stand us in front of two double doors. They explain that Luke will be laying on a gurney, covered up. They open the doors and there he is, in a hospital gown. Beau immediately doubles over and starts crying. He stands there for a minute and says he has to leave. I think its good for me and Wyatt and Rae to see him. He looks peaceful this time. Luke’s ear was black but every thing else looks normal. I walk up and put my hand on his belly. He is cold but feels normal. I run my finger down his cheek. I hold his hand and I tell him I love him and that I’d see him later and I walk out.

March 7, 2017

11:00pm

I was laying in bed, drifting of to sleep because I had work in the morning. I suddenly felt sick. My head felt funny and my ears plugged like I was deep under water. I felt weak. I texted my co workers in our group chat to tell them I felt sick and probably wouldn’t be in the next morning. I took advil. This lasted about ten minutes then I was fine.

Wyatt and Rae came home from the grocery store about the same time. They were half way through shopping when Wyatt had an anxiety attack so bad they had to leave their cart and come home.

The phone rang at 4:41 am. It was Gilbert telling us that he had found Luke dead.

Alabama

 

I am Alabama Colburn. It’s hard to describe yourself but I’m gonna try and paint you a picture.

I am 47 but when I tell people my age they never believe me. Everyone tells me I look like I’m in my 30’s which makes me feel good. I think it’s because Luke and my boys kept me on my toes for three decades straight.

I am naturally blonde but I rarely have blonde hair. Right now is dark brown and blonde underneath. I have blue eyes and Luke’s friend Clint tells me that in the winter I’m so white, I’m clear. I am 5’4″ and thicker than I want to be but I am working on that.

I love baseball and go to as many games as I can. I love being in a packed stadium with screaming fans. I love the smell of hot dogs and beer and popcorn. It’s so American. Standing for the national anthem, the players standing on the field with their hats over their chests. All the fans standing, doing the same. The commaradarie. The seven inning stretch when we all stand and sing “Take me out to the Ballgame”. Root root root for the Mets!! I love that.

I also play softball. This is my first year playing and I have to say I’m not half bad.

I also love music. I loved it as a kid and kind of lost it as an adult. Now I never turn it off. I’m listening to Taylor Swift as I write this. My music plays all night while I sleep and I have my ear buds in all day at work. I love all kinds of music. County, rock, pop, alternative. If there is story in the song, I love it. Music has gotten me writing again. I hear a song and it triggers a memory and off I go.

I go to every concert I can. I love being packed in an arena or a stadium or an outdoor venue or even a small club. Every one screaming and clapping. We all know the words and sing them. We wave our arms and hold up our cell phones with our lights on. When I was a teenager we held up our lighters. We all had burnt fingers tips by the end of the night.

I walk out with my ears ringing. A little buzzed from all the smoke around me. I like drinking at concerts. Not getting drunk but just a drink or two to make me a little giggly. It doesn’t take much now a days.

My adrenalin is always going when I walk out. Everyone talking too loud and smiling.

My boys have always been my life. From the moment Beau was born, my life become about them boys. I’ve never missed one baseball or football game. I’ve gone to every school program they had. Decades worth. They were all such good boys.

I’ve worked for the same company for two decades. It’s a big corporation. I do not love my job but I love the people I work with. They are my friends, not just co workers.

My boys are all grown. My husband is gone. For the first time in my life its all about me. Since life is short, I’m gonna make the best of it.

March 8th, 2017

4:41am the phone rings.

Me: Hello

Gilbert : Alabama, I think he’s gone

Me: gone?

Gilbert: Luke isn’t breathing.

Me: oh my god, do CPR, call 911.

Gilbert. He’s gone, he’s cold.

I go downstairs and try to wake up Wyatt. He won’t wake up. I don’t want to turn the light on and wake up my grandson. I walk into Drew’s room. He’s only 19 and I have to tell him his dad is dead. I walk in and turn his light on. He sits up. I say his name. “Drew”.

He says “ It’s dad, isn’t it”.

I shake my head yes. I can’t talk thru my tears.

He says “He’s dead, isn’t he.” I say yes. He is in shock. His voice gets loud and he said “we knew this was going to happen “. He sounds angry. As I walk out I see him lower his head and cry.

I’m numb. I’m not sobbing but tears are falling out of my eyes and they won’t stop. I am scared and empty. Drew calls Beau and tells him and then wakes up Wyatt and Rae. We are all falling apart, quietly.

Beau tells Drew that him and Autumn are jumping in their truck and leaving Montana for home. I’m relieved. I need all of my boys with me.

A medic calls me and asks me questions. How old was Luke, what is his birthday, did he have medical issues, was he sick. I answer his questions. I ask him where they are taking Luke. He tells me I need to come down there. They are waiting for the coroner and I need to be there. I’m in shock still. I go get in the shower. Rae told me not to long ago that she could hear me sobbing in the shower that morning. My heart was broken.

Rae and I drive to Gilbert’s. Wyatt and Drew don’t want to go.

I walk in and there is Luke, face down on the cold, hard tile, blanket covering him. His feet, in black socks, are hanging out. So is his right elbow. His elbow is black with levity. It is surreal. I want to touch him but can’t bring myself too so I just stand there and cry. Later, when no one is looking, I take a picture. It’s morbid but I keep thinking this is the last time I’ll ever see him.

Wyatt calls Rae. He wants to be there so she goes and gets him. The police tell me the coroner isn’t coming. They have determined it was a natural death. I now need to call a mortuary. I am overwhelmed. I call Luke’s friend John. John is an ordained minister. I call him and tell him Luke died at Gilbert’s house. Him and his wife Maddy come right over.

John calls a mortuary for me and we wait. Wyatt and I sit on one couch in the living room, John and Maddy on the other. Rae stands in the doorway with my grandson, Bubba the entire time. We’re all sitting around Luke’s dead body. Gilbert’s son and his friends are walking in and out of the house, walking around Luke like he’s part of an obstacle course. I can hear them in the garage laughing, then in the street, doing burnouts. I’m trying to keep Wyatt calm because he wants to kill them. At one point I start laughing hysterically. Is this really happening? I think they all think I’ve lost my mind.

We sit there for five hours.

The mortuary sends two women. Luke is a big guy. I ask one of the women how he looks. She said he looks OK. Wyatt wants to see his face. I tell him no. He insists. He wants to see his dad. They turn him over. Wyatt sees his dad’s face and makes this sound. I can’t describe it. It’s the sound of horror and grief combined. He turns and walks out of the house. They load up the boy I fell in love with 30 years before and take him away.

Luke

How do I even begin? Luke was everyone’s friend.  He never met a stranger.  He brought so many people home I never knew what to expect when I walked in from work.  He could talk to anyone and for hours at a time.

He was the life of the party.  If we were with friends or at a party and I needed to find Luke I just needed to find  the big group of people because I knew Luke was in the middle of them all.  

Luke was also up for anything.  Well, almost anything.  It had to be fun.  Luke’s kind of fun.  Luke was wild.  He was a bad boy.  He loved dirt bikes, camping, anything to do with water, snow mobiles. If it was fast and dangerous Luke was there.  He once called me from Clint’s, excited, because he saw a bull in a yard and he jumped on it and rode it.  

It never crossed his mind that he might get hurt and not be able to work.  Or that he was generating large hospital bills from getting hurt.  He didn’t think, he just did.

There was a darkness to Luke, though.  A sadness. If he wasn’t out being wild, he wasn’t happy.  If he had to be at home, he was irritable.  I always felt like I had to entertain him or he would leave.  He told me one time that he was never, ever happy.  It made me feel terrible, like he didn’t love me.  He said he loved me more than anything in the world but he just couldn’t be happy on the inside.

It took me decades to realize that he just couldn’t love himself. He couldn’t sit still because he would start thinking about life and how he wasn’t happy and how he felt like he was never good enough for me.  Or his boys.  But I know he loved us as much as he could. 

His mom told me once that he was like that as a little boy. He would get piles of presents for Christmas from his grandparents and he would open a couple then walk away to sit by himself.  They would go out to eat and he wouldn’t want to be there so he’d just go to sleep in the booth.  

My husband.  My  soul mate.  The boy I fell in love with.  We grew from childhood into adulthood together.  From 13 until  46 he was the center of my universe.  

We went from friends to boyfriend and girlfriend to husband and wife. He was always going to be a part of my life no matter what.  It was destiny. Fate. Whatever you want to call it.  It was always going to be that way.  

We went  through teenage pregnancy, breakups, death of friends and family, addictions, abortion, epic fights, cancer and just everyday life. He was always there.  Not always physically but we were always in each others hearts and minds. 

Until the day he wasn’t.  Until the day he went to sleep and didn’t wake up.