Monday, November 9, 2009

Saying Goodbye

I've been sitting here typing and erasing things as I try to begin this post and I've finally settled in knowing that there's no real right or wrong way to write about what's on my mind. The fact is, I want to be able to beautifully compose a message that accurately describes the loss I'm feeling of a friend who is more beautiful than she will ever know, but even as I try to organize my thoughts, everything seems to be coming through as scrambled. And so this post is going to be somewhat scrambled. A scatterbrain of thoughts, memories, and maybe just words. But it's the best I can do right now.

Billy- I miss you. There's no other way to say it. My heart aches right now and my mind is overflowing with images of our shared experiences. I never knew you were hurting as bad as you were and that makes me hurt for not knowing. I suspected you were having a rough go at things, but in knowing how strong you are and what a supportive husband you have, I figured this was a little bump in the road. One that would have a small effect on the overall grandness of your life.

I was so wrong. And I have regret that I didn't know how bad things were. I'm sorry.

You were so alive in life! You filled a room with your personality. I remember your blue eyes, always your blue eyes full of life and expression and a huge smile. Yes Billy, your eyes smiled.

And your laugh, I love your laugh. It was so infectious. It was such a healthy, uplifting, and cozy laugh. I felt at home around you. I should have told that. I guess I tried to express that during our experiences together. And we had so many that I will treasure.

The Timpanogos Story Telling festival! What a trip that was! The day we met Juston and the birth of new friendships- life-long friendships. And what great story tellers we were (Tom Hanks' and Steven Spielberg's daughters). Juston- thanks for playing along.

The Shakespearian festival in Cedar City. I love that we bought those fairy crowns for our heads with the colorful ribbons streaming down them and wore them all over to all the shows. I was having a hard time that week due to things going on in my family and you helped me to forget them and have a wonderful time. Remember the carriage ride we took that wasn't pulled by a horse but actually a man riding a bike? Crazy and fun all at the same time.

Then there was the annual Broadway review where we performed W-O-M-A-N (gotta love that Smokey Joe's Cafe music). You were great in that by the way.

Agnes of God and our superior rankings. We kicked some major theatrical ass down at Emery High School. Gotta love it when the last two teams that are finalists for the toughest category in the competition are from Carbon High. High five's to both Morgan and Nick for being our competition. We did RJ proud that year. And ourselves. That was a tough scene and we mastered it beautifully if I say so myself. Go us :)

Be still my heart. Steel Magnolias was the best theatre experience I've ever had. And I love how you and I basically told RJ that it was how we wanted to end our senior year. It was the show we were going to do, no if's, and's, or but's. And I love how we already knew who was going to be who in the cast because WE cast the show by letting RJ know who was who. If only it really worked that way with all directors right? :) I couldn't have done that show without you. We were definitely a team, a good team, and you made that show a beautiful production. You will forever be Shelby in my eyes. I had no idea that years after that show I'd be crying real tears. I'm not ready, nor do I want to say goodbye, Billy. The timing just doesn't seem real. Although I know how spontaneous you were, this timing just dosn't seem right.

Elevator Rockettes in Time Square at the Marriott Marquis, what a kick in the pants. And the fact that even though there was a king-sized bed in our awesome grand-master suite (shared by six girls), I love that you and I had the lame little twin beds. You had the best idea ever to push them up against the glass wall that lined Time Square so we could fall asleep to the lights and sounds of New York. And how is it that not one girl in our room had a key and all the boys from our group (in the regular hotel room on the floor below us) did?! That was the best trip ever. Sure, there was the time we were startled a little bit by the crazy man that decided to chase us back to the hotel, but it made for a great story.

Oh, and thanks for standing by my side when I finally got sick of K.R. and told her to stick her cell phone and day planner where the sun don't shine. Who did she think she was to stuff the safe in our hotel room with all of her belongings when there were six of us total?! You gave me strength to stand up to her. And I won't ever forget how we jammed those (then totally awesome because they had "Mariott Marquis" embroidered on them) robes into our suit cases before leaving for Washington. Thanks Gloria, our awesome maid from Jamacia who watched her soaps while cleaning our room, for promising not to tell management.

I'm glad we finally figured out where all those pennies were coming from in the dining room too *cough* and Mr. Pennysworth (said with an English accent of course) was born. Enter Tracy and his watch that was so good at letting drama students know when it was time to get off the stage.

Oh, and having the all points bulletin put out on a 5'0 girl in a tan shirt and "mocha skirt" was just fabulous. How in the world did we manage to walk into the bathroom at the same time and walk out alone and looking for each other? Thanks for losing me... I was scared shitless as I sat there with my firecracker ice-pop in the middle of a tornado hoping to see some familiar faces on the steps of the Air and Space Museum. But you showed up with that infectious laugh, a warming smile and a huge hug. And then we immediately started laughing about how the entire employee base of the Smithsonian was on the lookout for a missing girl. Good to know you have friends who care about you enough to make sure you're found. Even it it does mean escalating the emergency in Washington DC of all places. I'm feelin' the love. (And getting our picture taken with the plastic Jesus on the steps of the US Capitol wasn't half bad either.)

Then there were the "secret agent" men who tried to take our cameras away for taking pictures outside of the White House as we were waiting in line for the tour. We talked them into posing for a picture and promised that we wouldn't share the film with anyone. How silly those five minutes were, and yet so memorable.

Speaking of pictures, we managed to take some awesome ones at the Korean Memorial and Vietnam Wall. "Freedom isn't Free" but you are now. And I hope you've found peace.

I'll forever smile over the fun we had in class with RJ, Rodney, call him what we will (and we did). I'll never forget the fun we had with your awesome impersonation of Nell (poor Anta-tay and his oopy-tay). I guess you're Tay'ayin in the win somewhere now. But I'm glad to know you're there :)

I have countless memories, stories, pictures, smiles, and just good times that I will forever hang on to. You are one of those spirits that a person can't forget. Full of fun, energy, love and life.

My heart is aching. It broke when I heard the news, and I don't think I'm ready to try and put it back together yet. I need to cry a little, hurt a little, and hold on to a past that is fleeting. I wish I would have known the extent of your pain. I wish I could have given you what you gave me so many years ago when I was so unsure of myself: Courage, strength, and confidence. I always admired you for those qualities. And beyond those things, your beauty as well.

I hurt that you were in so much pain, and I don't think I'll ever understand how you felt. I'll never understand why you did what you did. But I'll always love you for the person I knew you to be. I choose to remember the Billy I just wrote about. I choose to remember you as the person who touched everyone she met, in a good way, an amazing way.

I will miss you Billy. I already feel the loss of you not being here. Just last week I posted a quote from Steel Magnolias on your Facebook page, in fond memory of the good times we had during that show. And I laughed to myself as I posted it because I knew it would bring back inside jokes and funny memories for you too.

Since Saturday, I've cried over losing you, but I've laughed too as Juston and I have shared fond memories of you. I know I'll cry more before I say goodbye on Thursday at your service, but I know you'd want all of us to remember the good times had; and there were so many good times, Billy. So to quote our show one last time, I will end this post with the following: "Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." Thank you Billy, for all the laughs, the love and good times we had. Although yours has been cut short, you are a life-long friend.

Closing night of Steel Magnolias, January 1998

I love you. I miss you. I always will.


  1. You're a beautiful person too! Thanks for the memories. I will always remember you guys in Steel Magnolias. It was perfect.

    In honor of Billy..."Shelby, as you know, wouldn't want us to get mired down and wallow in this. We should handle this the best way we know how ans get on with it. That's what my mind says, I just wish somebody would explain it to my heart." -M'Lynn


  2. Thanks Bridget, I needed that (and how true those words) :)

  3. I'm so happy I was part of a couple of those stories. W-O-M-A-N. New york, class. Thanks

  4. Thank you Michelle for sharing your stories, Very beautiful! Drama Was a blast! I'm So sorry that you lost such a wonderful and vibrant friend. Love and Prayers your way!!

    Alysha Cook

  5. I don't know you, but I saw this link on Billy's facebook, and decided to follow it. Thank you for writing this. I too cried when I read it, because it puts into words many of the emotions I myself have felt over the past few days.

  6. Very moving and touching Michelle!Thanks for sharing these memories. Billy was a beautiful, special and talented person. She will be dearly missed!
    Joe Cha

  7. Oh Michelle... that was beautiful. Your writing is always so moving. I've heard these stories from you guys before so many times, but I am so grateful to get to read them now (lauging through tears, of course). Thank you for sharing your heart and memories with us. She gave so much joy and love to everyone around her. You captured that so perfectly in your stories. My thoughts and prayers are with you and everyone grieving her loss. I love you! ~Kim

  8. Great post, Michelle! I know how much you are hurting and I pray that you and Billy's family and other friends are comforted at the funeral later on today. I know how hard that is going to be for you.