I'm like, shit, this wasn't supposed to happen. Now, don't get me wrong, the job is going great - My stress level has been cut in half, the guys are fun to work with and the duties of the job are manageable, with somedays a little more office bitchy than others. Like today, I actually "fetched" coffee at Target. We call it supply shopping around here, which I'm glad to do. While there I learned there is a creepy secret coffee society that actually knows and can taste the difference between ground Colombian roast and whole bean Sumatra (names I gathered on the hundreds of different packages in the half aisle completely dedicated to coffee). Since I never drink the shit unless it's in the form of a Starbucks caramel Frappuccino where the two drops of coffee placed in the bottom of the cup are almost completely masked by the half gallon of milk and sugar blended in, I've never bothered to explore the cornucopia that is the coffee aisle. Coffee in any other form tastes like dirt and asshole, so it's beyond me why this secret coffee society exists. The caffeinated beverage in my insulated mug is usually green tea with honey, thank you.
I almost feel lost without the stress of my life as a journalist and find myself worrying that I'm forgetting something. I'm like, give me a deadline so I have something to be neurotic about and give myself heart palpitations and sleep apnea at age 25, please, please, please. But I'm just really trying to give myself time to get used to this new schedule and new life, take it down the six or seven notches for a bit before I dive headfirst into this freelance writing thing. One thing at a time - a new thing for me, which probably won't last, but a few more days.
And, right in the middle of trying to decompress and reorganize my life, a tragic and untimely death just had to occur.
My sister left me a hysterical message last Saturday night and as I listened to the message, the first thing that came to mind was, "Oh shit, our parents have died in a fiery car wreck." I immediately called her back and she said, "Craig Yeager is dead," followed by sobs. He was somebody I knew decently well, through my sister's longtime friendship with him and he even lived with our family for several months when they were in high school. There had been talk of some sort of a growing addiction involving prescription narcotics, but the cause is still unclear to me. The only thing I can say about it is, he was too damn young, it could have been prevented and it's just a terrible shame.
I stayed, teary-eyed, at the visitation with my dad for a little over an hour Wednesday night. The line of heartbroken, crying people spilled out of the front doors, snaked it's way through the chapel, past his open casket guarded by his fellow firefighters, his family and girlfriend and gathered in front of a table full of all things "Yeager" and a screen playing a slideshow of photos to his favorite songs. It was absolutely gut wrenching; reminiscent of when I lost one of my longtime friends right after high school graduation, which made it even more upsetting.
The shock of something like this makes you want to live your life in a different way - stop to listen, be more generous with your time, more open with your feelings, less self-centered, more proactive and more focused on people and souls rather than a life full of just "stuff" and "things."
Funeral services for Craig Martin Yeager, 30, Kansas City, Mo., will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship in Lawrence.
Mr. Yeager died Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, at his home from accidental causes. He was born July 25, 1978, in Point Pleasant, W.Va. He graduated from Olathe South High School and Johnson County Community College.
Mr. Yeager was a firefighter/paramedic for the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical Department. He also taught emergency medical classes at Johnson County Community College.
He loved sports of all kinds, particularly KU basketball. He played league soccer when he was a youngster. He enjoyed spending time with friends and was proud to be a firefighter.
Survivors include his parents, Vicki and C.W. Kimball, Olathe, and Charles Martin Yeager, Mason, W.Va..; a twin sister, Erin Smith and husband Aaron, Olathe; his aunt, Pam Gillham and husband, Cliff, who helped raise Craig and his twin sister when they were infants; a cousin, Kamryn, of Virginia; three half brothers, Jeff Kimball, of Kansas, Chad Kimball, Texas, and Heath Yeager, of West Virginia; and two half sisters, Haley Yeager, West Virginia, and Lauren Kimball, Olathe. Other surviving aunts and uncles include Sally and Ralph Ross, West Virginia, Carl and Susan Kimball, Colorado, Don and Carolle Weissinger, Missouri; Dan and Cathy Fogle, Oklahoma; Richard and Claudia Bowe, Oklahoma, and many other cousins including Katie and Doug Bowe, Danny and Brian Fogle, Kristin Ferretti, Amy Cremeans and Shawn Ross.
He is also survived by his grandmother, Pat Burton, grandfather, Charles Yeager, Mason, W.Va; and his girlfriend, Janine Patsch, of the home. He also leaves behind his English bulldog, Dakota.
He was preceded in death by his maternal grandfather, Lewis D. Burton, paternal grandmother, Lavera Yeager, and half sister, Jaselyn Kimball.
The family will greet friends from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. today at Warren-McElwain Mortuary.
The family suggests memorials to Fallen Firefighters Fund Inc., the Burnett Burn Center at the Kansas University Medical Center, or Kansas Safe School Resource Center, sent in care of the mortuary.
Life never slows down, no matter how much we concentrate on trying to make it so. We just have to enjoy it when the events are good, deal with it when they're bad and be grateful we have been privileged to experience it all.