Archived Story

Erika Pickles: One of the ‘whys’ of life I will never understand

Published 10:34pm Wednesday, March 30, 2011

After three years away from writing, I have to say it feels great to be back.

As most of you may recall, I worked for this publication from 2004-2008, covering everything from local sports to front page news stories. So when the opportunity came up to write for them again, I jumped on it.

As I sat down to write my first column a week ago, I couldn’t decide what to start with first. There are so many topics I plan to cover in my columns, and I couldn’t figure out where to begin. I had one all set to go four days before my deadline, but after this weekend, I quickly changed my column. I had to.

As many of you have heard, this past weekend was a very tough weekend for the community. We lost quite a few well known, highly respected people. While my deepest sympathies go out to those I know who lost a loved one, there is one person in particular who lost her life too soon and has left myself, and many others, in shock.

Abby Watson (or “Abbs,” as some of us called her) was a friend of mine. I’ve known her and her family for many years. The news of her death early Sunday morning still hasn’t sunk in yet, and I’m sure most people can say the same. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to people like her, especially not this soon. It’s just another one of the “whys” of life I will never understand.

If you have a Facebook account, you probably saw the outpouring of support and kind words for her and her family. And I’m not just talking a handful of people — I’m talking about hundreds and hundreds of posts. It was obvious she left such a huge impact on so many people in this town. I had a hard time just keeping up with number of inbox messages and text messages I was receiving from everyone wondering what was going on. For about four hours on that sunny afternoon, I had to shut myself down from our technology driven world because it was becoming overwhelming. So I just lay in bed trying to make sense of it all.

My dog always knows when something is wrong, especially if I’m crying. As I lay in bed with the tears streaming down my face, he came to my rescue like he always does, layed his head on my stomach and just stared at me. If you have animals, you can probably relate to this. It’s like an instant feeling of relief. It’s as if our animals are saying, “It’s OK to cry. I’m here. Use me as a hugger, use me as a Kleenex — I don’t care. But I want you to know I’m here for you.”

I couldn’t help but laugh as he quickly moved from my stomach to my face, almost as if he wanted to have a stare-off. And in that moment of laughter, I quickly realized that laughing was something Abby always made me do.

My tears turned to smiles as I remembered all of the fun times I had spent in Abby’s presence. Her laugh alone is something I will never forget and I couldn’t think of one bad memory with her. Every story and every memory I have is one that left me happy. When the thought of someone can leave you smiling and laughing through such horrible news, that truly is a wonderful sign of the type of person she was.

On Sunday evening, I dug out my old photo albums and went through the endless amounts of pictures I have with this sweet, hysterical girl, whose smile would light up a room. Her humor alone was indescribable and she was always there if you needed a friend — no matter what. Abby and I, along with a few other of my closest friends — Erin, Mia and Anna — all bonded for a reason. We were the young, fun-loving group of friends who experienced some of the most important days of our lives together. We were in our early 20s, a time when you are just figuring out who you are, who you want to be and where you’re going in life. After she moved to Chicago, we made a few trips over to spend the weekend with her, but as we all started becoming adults, and our lives turned from fun to work, we somewhat lost touch, but never lost that friendship.

My heart hurts, not only for Abby, but for the entire Watson family. Things like this aren’t supposed to happen to people like her, or to such a wonderful family. Unfortunately, in this crazy little thing we call life, they do. And it’s situations like this that should make us all appreciate the life we have, and those we have in it because you never know what tomorrow will hold.

“Abbs”“ I cannot express enough how greatly you will be missed. And although you were taken from us too soon, I know somewhere you are making people laugh, just as you made so many of us do.

“Although it’s difficult today to see beyond the sorrow, may looking back in memory help comfort you tomorrow.”

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