To Fuzzy with Love

by Todd D. DeRidder
(Waverly Iowa )

There are very few people in my life who hold a lot of power. My parents and sister, of course are on this list, as are some close friends of mine from recent history. However, the one person who is on the list, but not here any more is Fuzzy.

Fuzzy was a man, much older then myself. Roughly the same age as my father, he entered into my life when I was 17. His wife and my mother worked together in a home health office in NW Iowa. Through his wife, I met the man. Through meeting the man, I met a best friend.

I knew Fuzz for a very short period of time, he passed away on April 19, 2004, just months before my 19th birthday. I remember the smile, the words, and the love of life that he had.

I arrived home on that tragic day to find my mother in the kitchen of our two story farm house. She was still supposed to be working. She said that something had happened and I knew right away that it was Fuzz. My mother told me that he had died either the night before or early in the morning. His wife, Nelda, found him hanging in their old barn, a note at his feet. Yes, he committed suicide.

As I write this, it is so hard to keep going, but I know that I must. I still feel the wave of raw emotions that came at me like a monsoon when my mother told me. I still am not sure if I am completely over it.

The largest question that all of us who knew him had was WHY?

We knew that he had hung himself, that was evident from the start. Yes, we were angry. Yes, I WAS ANGRY. I refused to be the center of attention. Fuzz had his own family, kids, grand kids, a wife, who needed the support. I swallowed my grief and offered support.

When I was first told, yes I was upset, but I am not sure if it was just the shock of the moment. Months later, when I was working at a YMCA camp, I broke down during training over the loss of a valued friend.

I went to college, with him constantly weighing on my mind. I knew that there was going to be an autopsy, but no one knew when to expect the results.

Then, one day, during a call from my mother, I was informed that the autopsy results were in. It appears that Fuzz had an inoperable brain tumor. It seemed that the choice was simple for him: go through six months (or less) of physical hell, putting those close to him through emotion hell or end it quick on his own terms.

I do not condone the act. For the longest time, before knowing this information, I felt guilty, I felt like I could have saved him, could have prevented his suicide. I was angry, at myself and at him. I missed him so much. I still do. But, when I found that he made the choice and why, I did accept why he did it. Do I agree, no.

It will be eight years in ten days. Have I healed? I thought I did when I started writing this. Now, after thinking it over, I do not think I have healed completely yet. Fuzz, I miss you. I always will.

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