Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Blackest Christmas

It had been a rough fall/winter to say the least. For the last month or two that we lived in the Slayer house we actually had no phone, which meant I couldn't contact any friends and they couldn't contact me, with the exception of showing up at my door. 

Once I moved into my parent's basement I had a phone line again, so naturally I was reaching out to friends to make time to hang out, with the exception of my former roomies. Well, I was still in contact with Mike C after all we were still in the same band together. 

Speaking of bands, Wiggaz was now no more. Greg or Rob had called me at my parents to inform me that I was no longer in the band. They had decided to ask Mike Myres, the original Wiggaz vocalist, to rejoin them again. Mike had left Wiggaz & BBJ to focus on his marriage and career. I pleaded that this was a big mistake as Mike wouldn't do it, but my pleas went unheard. Sure enough Mike turned them down and within a week Wiggaz was no more. I really had no contempt for Frank the drummer as he seemed to have no say in this, but I was definitely feeling betrayed by Greg & Rob. Needless to say I didn't go out of my way to continue friendships with them. 

I spent a lot of nights at Hooterville station drinking myself into abysmal darkness. Once the bar closed I'd generally head home and stay up watching tv until sunrise while making drunken prank calls. I was slowly sinking deeper into my dark place but now that I could talk to my friends again things were brightening up. 

A few days before Christmas I got a phone call from none other than Jay Poole. I was so relieved to hear his voice again and to know he was still alive. Jay was in very high spirits, he had beaten his leukemia once again and grasped a new lease on life. He was his old self, high energy, full of jokes, and he was overly excited to share some new Mortal Kombat cheat codes with me. We talked on the phone for a good hour or so and in all honesty it was the best Christmas present I received that year... or possibly ever.

3 weeks later we were half way into January of 1996 and I had just celebrated my 23rd birthday. The following night I was back in Woodbridge working my job at the gas station. It was a typically slow midnight shift as per usual, but business was about to pick up. 

I saw a very familiar vehicle pull up to the first pump, a tracker jeep that belonged to none other than my ex girlfriend Tara. I had no idea why she was here or what I was in for, but I assumed it would be negativity. I was expecting her to walk in and start fighting with me right away, but she had a very worried look on her face. She proceeded to tell me Sanjai had called her because he couldn't get in contact with me. The message he passed along to her was that Jay Poole only had about 4 days left to live. His leukemia had come back tenfold and the doctors had confirmed this was the end of the road for him.

Tara split pretty quick after delivering the news and my brain instantly went into overdrive. I was flooded with all the memories I'd ever shared with him. It was so much to process in such a short time that I felt my mind was about to blow out of my ears. I just couldn't deal with the news. I was so confused and overwhelmed that I actually locked up the gas station and started walking from Woodbridge to Brampton. I got a few blocks before my logical side kicked back in. I couldn't just abandon work and leave Shayne's mom in that predicament. I headed back to work and finished the duration of my shift, as extremely difficult as it was.

To deal with my feelings I did what I do best, write. I immediately started writing a song about Jay to try and cope with the bomb that had just been dropped on me. I only wrote one verse which was hard enough, I wouldn't go on to finish the song until after his passing. 

When I got home I could not fall asleep, I could not stop crying, and I could not stop thinking about Jay. I really had no way to go see him, so I humbled myself and contacted Tara and thankfully she agreed to bring me to see him. 

It was definitely one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. Walking in his hospital room and seeing him hooked up to tubes and machines, his face and body swollen almost beyond recognition. He looked very tired and he could not even speak. He shook his head side to side as to say "no I don't want you to see me like this". I stood at the side of the bed and held his hand, we stared into each other's eyes, and although we exchanged no words our gaze upon each other spoke volumes. It was as if I could hear his thoughts and he could hear mine. 

I stayed strong, said my goodbyes, and we were on our way back home. One of R.E.M.'s hit songs was on the radio, "Everybody hurts". I never liked the band, I never liked the song, and I never saw any importance or significance to it, but at this moment it forced me to break down like a child and ball my eyes out. To this day 20 years later it still pains me greatly when I hear that song. 

As hard as the experience was, I felt it would of been harder for me to deal if I didn't get to see him and say my goodbyes. A week later Tara was once again nice enough to drive Sanjai and I to Jay's funeral in Milton. It was a tough day no doubt, and afterwards we were invited to a local bar to share stories with his friends and family. Although we were there it was as if I wasn't there. Physically my body was, but mentally my brain was not. 

After the whole ordeal I was feeling very upset and I was now in the darkest spot of my darkness. I felt like if I was left alone I might do something drastically stupid, so I begged Tara to hang out with me for a few hours, to which she declined. If I ever needed her this was the time, but she chose to turn her back and walk away. This ended up leading to an argument, and in turn it was the last time I ever spoke to her. 

I continued my downward spiral of drinking, depression and negativity. I felt like I was in a black tunnel who's walls were slowly closing in on me. 

There HAD to be a light at the end of the tunnel....

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