May 9, 2001. It started out like any typical Spring day in Atlanta. It was pretty, the sun was shining...I rolled over in bed to kiss Shooter and cheerily greet him with a "Happy Birthday!!!" We went about our morning routine and the went out the door to work - hugs and kisses and promises of seeing each other later were shared.
Work was like any typical day...I worked for a pretty large regional bank and it was just another day of crunching numbers and sending out checks and calculating commissions. Late in the afternoon...not long before I was to leave to go home and share a great dinner with Shooter...I received a phone call from my Mom. Not completely unusual, but enough out of the ordinary that I had to frown a bit before I picked up the phone. Not one word was said...I heard her sobs...I could sense her body being wracked with a pain I'd never experienced before. "Mom, what's wrong?", I whispered. Louder sobs. "MOM!?!? WHAT'S WRONG????" I immediately imagined the worse. "Mom, what's wrong with Daddy? Talk to me!!" She manages to compose herself enough to squeak out, "Honey, it's not Daddy." "Well, what's wrong with Peepaw or Paw or Granny or Wes!?!?!? Or you!!!!", I was panicked by now. "Honey, it's Drew. I just talked to them...he's gone."
I remember screaming "NO!" over and over again. I remember sobbing hysterically. I remember my co-workers running to my office to see what was wrong. I remember them closing my door so that I could deal with my grief in private. I remember the looks on their faces....their pity...as my world broke apart.
I was able to get myself together enough to pack my things. I went to my boss' office and all he had to do was take one look at me and he was so kind. He told me to take all the time I needed, they'd be fine. He didn't ask any questions, he needed no explanation. He was a good man that way.
I called Shooter on the way home. Explained to him what had happened, or at least what I understood had happened - what few details I had. He (and I for that matter) had far more questions than I had answers to. Somehow I made it home...Shooter's birthday dinner a distant thought. I had talked to my parents and they were on their way to Atlanta with Peepaw...we were going to drive to Orlando that night to be with them. I was going to have to help Daddy and drive, Mom said. I didn't mind...I needed something to focus on...something besides all the questions floating around in my head.
I can't remember what time they picked me up...but we drove that evening from Atlanta to Orlando. We got there late...that's all I really remember. Most of the time in Orlando was a blur. I do remember taking my cousins to the movie at Downtown Disney. I thought it would be good to get them out and distract them a bit. We were all overwhelmed and raw emotionally. We'd cried all we could. Actually, we'd cried all our tears a few months earlier when our Grandmother, our Nannie, passed away. This was just about the last staw for us.
To be continued.....