Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Clarity asked some questions yesterday that I want to answer, so she doesn't feel alone, so Perl, this isn't going to be a happy, upbeat entry. Deal with itl ;-)

I just stared into the darkness while he slept and felt this crushing sadness. It just overwhelmed me.

Have you ever smiled when you were on the brink of tears and the person you were next to didn't even notice?

Have you ever felt like you couldn't breathe because there was this weight of unhappiness on your chest that you couldn't describe?

I have felt this way, many times. I've lain in bed or sat up in bed and just felt bereft. No other word describes the feeling. You know people love you and care about you, but for some reason, you can't focus on that. You can only think about the deep, enervating sadness you're experiencing. It doesn't even necessarily have to be caused by any specific event or thing. It just is. And I think it's harder to deal with it, because there is no cause, just an effect.

I have also smiled while on the brink of tears –with tears literally brimming in my eyes – and people all around me had no clue or perhaps just weren't comfortable saying anything, and they were people who knew me and were friends. But on other occasions I've had strangers take notice and ask if I were okay. I like to think that friends don't say anything because they're giving you space and don’t want to pry and think that if you're upset you'll say something, whereas a stranger doesn't feel trapped by an ongoing social pressure to have to see you again when you might be embarrassed by a past emotional state.

And the feeling of being unable to breathe? Oh yes, and not just from the asthma, but from the overwhelming depths of my emotions where I just couldn't face people or things. Usually when I'm feeling like that, though, I have to cry, and it's not a graceful little sniffle, but deep gasping sobs where breathing becomes even more difficult, and it scares the hell out of the cats. Instead of wallowing in my depression, I do try to call somebody who I know will be sympathetic and helpful, but not always. It just depends on my mood. The last time I felt that way I called Suzy and she was so sweet and sympathetic and even though there was really nothing she could say to make me feel better, just talking to her did make me feel better. She's one of the people I trust with my emotions. I said in a previous survey that I trust a lot of people with my life. I trust far fewer people with my emotions. And I think that's an indication of a true friend, they're the ones to whom you can tell anything and know that they will never hold or use it/them against you.

Back in 1999 I was at Fontana (you can always spot a true Champ Car fan by how they refer to races, it's rarely by the track or race name and almost always by the city name, except for maybe Laguna Seca, but you'll never hear a race fan call it the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, I guarantee you that) when Greg Moore had his horrendous crash. I knew the second I saw the accident that we had lost him that day and I just sat in the grandstands surrounded by supposed race fans whom didn't seem to grasp the significance of what we had just seen on the big screen. I sat there in stunned horror and disbelief and cried as the people around me watched the race and cheered when someone would make a pass. And they all looked at me as if I were crazy. I didn't get it. WE HAD JUST SEEN SOMEONE DIE, essentially. And they were acting as if it were no big deal. I was with a friend from work, her brother and his wife and this was their first race. You'd think they'd have been horrified by the crash, but they were seemingly oblivious. Even after they lowered the flat to half-mast and announced to the crowd that Greg had died, people still didn't seem to get it. I was floored, especially when the guy in front of me turned around and asked me why I was crying. I said something about Greg and he said, "Oh, did you know him?" WHAT??? Are you freaking kidding me? Why do I have to know him to mourn his passing? I simply said that I had met him years ago in Toronto when he was still in Indy Lights. I so badly wanted to be with my race friends that day, but Mick and The Boys were down in Turn Four while I was stuck in Turn One. And Char and Rich whom I knew were in Turn One were so devastated that they left very quickly after the race was over (all of us wishing that they had just canceled the damn thing, but there was a championship to be decided that day, and it was the last race of the season). I so badly just wanted a hug from somebody who understood and that was not to be.

And the woman behind me was more concerned about Adrian Fernandez (the fucking traitor) who ended up winning the race because his very first win had come at Toronto in 1996 when Jeff Krosnoff died and how unfair this was to Adrian. *sigh* Whatever! And when the race was finally over, it was determined that Juan Pablo Montoya had won the Championship over Dario Franchitti (Greg's best friend on the circuit) better known as Mr. Ashley Judd. The issue here is that JPM is Colombian and there were a shitload of Colombians in the crowd that day waving their Colombian flags. Normally I have no issue with that, except that they were cheering and carrying on and acting like the biggest event of the day had been JPM's championship. I was appalled and said something to my friend about the inappropriateness of their cheering and she said, "Why? Somebody won." I said, "Yes, but somebody died and that takes precedence." I mean, CART canceled the post-race ceremonies and didn't present the Vanderbilt Cup to JPM or the race trophy to AF. I believe there were post race interviews for television, but three top finishing drivers were very subdued and just talked about Greg.

My friend dropped me at the airport where I had to wait a while for my plane and cried in the waiting area, but when it finally landed in Oakland and I got off the plane my brother was standing there waiting for me and I just fell into his arms and burst into tears. The poor thing had no clue what was going on, he just hugged me and that's what I needed. The next day Walter Payton succumbed to his life-threatening illness and I officially retired my racing shirt as I thought three autographs from people no longer with us was enough. I had gotten Greg's in Toronto when he was in Indy Lights, Walter's in Toronto in the paddock (he was the nicest man) and Jeff's in Cleveland two weeks before he was killed, another very nice man who went out of his way to be nice to a fan.

Thankfully we haven't lost any more drivers since Greg (thanks to the crack Safety Team of Dr. Terry Trammel and Dr. Steve Olvey who saved Alex Zanardi's life in 2000). Just thinking about them still makes me sad and tear up, as even though I had only met all them briefly, they still impacted my life by being involved in the sport I love so much. And their loss is still felt to this day. As Alex said in Toronto that horrible day in 1996, "Go Jeff Go." And Walter and Greg. RIP.


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