Saying Goodbye to John

Sorry for being the quintessential absentee blogger as of late, but with so much going on (birthdays, parties, Mother’s Day, et al.), I’ve found that I just haven’t had the time or energy to devote to my weekly updates. It really stinks, because so much awesome has been happening lately that I really want to share it all with you!

Trip to GA 01However, the last entry before my extended hiatus was a post regarding the death of our good friend and my college roommate, John. So before going any further with Monday Musings, Thursday Thoughts, or any other entries we had planned, I at least wanted to give myself…as well as those interested…a bit closure to this chapter.

We lost John on a Sunday, and by mid-week all the arrangements had been made for a funeral that following weekend back in his home state of Georgia. Attending the funeral with the remaining roommates was never in question, but by Thursday Miss & I had determined that the cost of flying was prohibitive enough to warrant a road trip east. So by 3:00 on Friday afternoon, I was heading southeast, trying to put a few of the 850 miles to Rome behind me in order to arrive at a decent hour on Saturday.

The trip down was as frustrating as any I have driven (and trust me, I’ve driven my fair share of cross-country trips) as I was mired travelling length-wise through the very weather system that dumped 4” of May snow on Iowa.

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Thankfully, the snow had by then turned to rain…but it was relentless.

And the cause of many delays.

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However, by Saturday afternoon I had reached my first intended destination: a quick lunch with my little bro in downtown Chattanooga.

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Although our time was brief, it was good to see a friendly, familiar face so far from home on what had otherwise been a lonely trip.

From Chatt-town, the trip to Rome was just over an hour, so that by early Saturday evening I was checking in to the hotel for the night. I was the second roommate to arrive, so after unpacking I spent some time catching up with Sam while we waited for the others.

Once they arrived we expressed our sympathies with each other (big group hug) and headed out for a late dinner, and afterwards stayed up way too late catching up with one another until the weariness of our travels got the best of us.

• • •

Sunday was a tough day.

After having breakfast together, the four of us got dressed and headed over to the funeral home for a private viewing to say our own personal goodbyes…

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(Picture of John that was next to his casket)

…before heading out to personally give our condolences to his family before they were inundated at the public viewing later that afternoon. While saying goodbye to John was tough, trying to hold it together while meeting with his folks…especially now that I’m a father myself…was virtually impossible. I don’t think I even managed to say three complete sentences the entire time I was visiting. Seeing John Sr.’s pain and Paula’s sadness and disbelief was too much to handle. I can’t even imagine the agony and heartache they, or any parent, goes through in having to bury their child.

Yet even though we were all a sobbing messes throughout most of that trip, we were sure that if John were there, he would have made fun of us if he saw us and then rather we remember him over a few ice-cold Yuenglings.

We had a late lunch together before heading to the funeral.

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And made sure to mark our territory in John’s memory as we left.

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Photo May 05, 1 41 49 PM

Sometimes, it’s even the little things that help…ya know?

Many more tears were shed throughout the afternoon, and two of my roommates gave fantastic eulogies…I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house by the time the events concluded. We had to get a few pictures afterwards…especially considering we hadn’t been together in almost seven years.

The Families

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For Missy, seeing pictures the four of us together again without Street was the hardest part of all, especially since she was 800 miles away at home in Iowa. Not being able to be with and grieve with the families…not being able to morn without four sets of hands constantly grabbing for attention…and not being able to say a goodbye of her own…was just as heart-wrenching and emotionally exhausting, if not more so, than it would have been if she was right there with us.

One cool fact about our families: three of the five roommates were in steady long-distance relationships throughout most of our VMI cadetship. And of those three, each of us ended up marrying and starting families with those girlfriends, who in turn became great friends as well. And trust me, there isn’t a day that goes by that we all wish we lived closer together. (Seven years is way too long…let’s work on that!)

I had intended to head back up the road afterwards, but decided to stick around through dinner before driving to Chattanooga for the night.

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Although our goodbyes ended up rushed in a loud Mexican restaurant, I’m so thankful that I stayed. Each having our own families, our own commitments, our own lives…it’s hard to say when the next time we’ll all be together again. Honestly, it would have been a shame not to take full advantage of the short amount of time we had together. Hopefully we won’t have to wait seven more years until we all meet again.

I’m also so glad for my brother Addie, who was waiting to welcome me back to Chattanooga for the night with good convo over a late-night beer sampler, a free place to crash…

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…two cases of Yuengling to take home (college staple brew available out here in IA)…


…and company over breakfast & coffee before making the long trip home on Monday.

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Unfortunately, I missed John’s internment on Monday, but with the day’s drive and the need to conserve PTO for our planned family trip later this summer, it was sadly unavoidable.

Tired and weary, I arrived back home to five smiling faces waiting for me in the driveway  13 hours hours later, completing 1,700 mile round-trip. Despite only staying in Georgia for just over 24 hours, the journey was bittersweet, yet completely worth it. You truly don’t realize how short and how precious this gift of life is until it’s gone. I’m thankful that we…Andrew, Sam, and Jonathan and I…were able to say goodbye to our friend John Streetman together just as he would have wanted it. And despite our sorrow, we took solace in knowing that someday we’ll all be together again.

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About Tom Hardinge

Loving husband to my wife Missy, loving father to my four daughters Sienna, Rowan, Jovie, and Lola. I'm a chronic over-packer who loves good coffee, good music, running, waffle tee's, fleece pants, and Jesus Christ!

2 thoughts on “Saying Goodbye to John

  1. Pingback: Monday Musings | What’s Going On | living in pursuit

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