Saying Goodbye to a Friend

Host Intro: Dealing with the death of a friend or loved one can be challenging, and everyone says goodbye in their own way. Reporter Lindsey Kortyka grapples with unexpected loss.

KORTYKA:

Sometimes, you have a chance to say goodbye to someone and sometimes you don’t. My dad had a heart attack in his late 40s. As he was heading into a quadruple bypass surgery my mom told  us to say goodbye.  My dad is fine now, but I learned that there is something to be said about having time to mentally prepare yourself for a goodbye.

When I was at Oberlin College in Ohio I met Alex. He had a sunny personality and rode everywhere on a skateboard. He also loved music, especially playing the flute. We became fast friends. Alex was a neuroscience major – which for me seemed like an impossible major – so much memorization and medical jargon. Even he was worried he wouldn’t pass his classes, and he didn’t find out that he had passed until the dean handed him his diploma on our graduation day.

 

He moved to Miami, Florida to be near his dad. My family would take frequent trips to Florida, and Alex remained a staple at our family dinners by the beach.

When I got engaged to my husband I threw a bachelorette party in Las Vegas. I invited Alex, the only guy. The photos of us are funny- the girls in black dresses and high heels and Alex in a suit, beaming.

In May 2015 we had a short layover in Miami. But, a storm caused our flight to be delayed over night. I texted Alex to visit the hotel we were staying in.

 

He rode his 2004 Suzuki – a sporty red and yellow motorcycle- to our hotel. Even though, I told him it was dangerous, he liked the thrill of riding it around. Alex was like that, he wanted to live life to the fullest, and he didn’t mind risk.

 

We sat in the dark at the hotel, talking late into the night. Alex said he liked to talk in the dark because he could really appreciate what people were saying, and the sound of their voices. I fell asleep. My husband walked Alex out, and I never said goodbye that night.

A few months later in November, Alex sent me a snapchat of his motorcycle. He was going to meet a friend for lunch. I didn’t see any more snaps from Alex that day, but I didn’t think much of it.

 

I didn’t realize what had happened until a friend texted me – a headline, “Motorcyclist, 29, killed in Pines Crash was a Physician Assistant, Accomplished Musician.”

 

A man drove his car into Alex’s lane – he didn’t see him. Alex was knocked from his bike and he died.

I never really got to say goodbye for real

 

But I definitely tried.

 

I went to a psychic and asked her to tell Alex goodbye – I was desperate.  I don’t think it worked. She said Alex was upset because I had to leave his funeral early. It didn’t sound like him at all. She did say he’s met lots of famous musicians in heaven- which was both kind of weird and kind of comforting at the same time.

 

Now, sometimes I will sit and talk to Alex. I ask him for help with things. I think back to how he used to enjoy listening to voices in the dark. I know that he would appreciate hearing my voice – and that he would know that sometimes at night in the dark it is still possible to say goodbye.
Outro: Lindsey Kortyka still enjoys dinner on the beach with her family in Miami and weekend trips to Vegas.

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