When I was at Lincoln Christian College, I roomed with Derrick Simmons—and despite what he always said, I still say he’s the one who spelled his first name the wrong way. This morning I was informed that he died in his sleep last night. Hit me hard. Too hard. Derrick was about a 300-plus pound, nearly 7 foot tall black man. At the time, I was a 5’10”, 130 pound, white kid. We were opposite in many many ways, and the dorm staff freely admitted they stuck us together just because they thought it’d be funny. But I am in their debt for doing so.
It just about broke me in half to hear Derrick died. With the world being what it is, I took to Facebook, like so many of his friends and posted a message on his wall. I’m now sharing that here, just as I wrote it on his wall. Hankies on standby… You won’t fully understand some of it…but I was writing to him, not to you…so that’s okay.
Derrick…what can I say? I’m sad, I’m angry, I’m devestated, and I’m in shock.
I called Jimmi to talk to her about you. I thought you’d want that–for her to not have to read it on Facebook. She’d already heard by the time I called though. Telling her was the first time I talked about it out loud. I completely fell apart. Not in the dignified, single manly tear way… I was completely, embarassingly, unapologetically blubbering.
You were a good man. You were a good room-mate. You’re the reason I still have people in my life who call me “Little D” into my thirties, and over the 230-pound mark, and long after we both left Lincoln. I remember meeting you for the first time and seeing this big, imposing looking guy, who turned out to be one of the most loving, kind people you could ever want to meet. I remember staying up late and talking about Jesus with you. I remember the day my alarm was going off and I was sleeping through it, so you woke me up by repeatedly dropping your lumbering hand down on my bed, right next to my head, just about bouncing me out of the bunk. I now remember and am gutted by the couple of serious arguments we had…and I’m comforted to know that we forgave each other and later in life got the opportunity to become the friends we were always meant to be. I’m glad we got that chance. I remember seeing you walk into SLCC and thinking I was out of my mind, and how warmly you greeted me. I remember how often we’d share stories and jokes in the coffee-house, and I have absolutely no regrets about slacking on the job by going over to talk to you. I am angry that I have no photos of the two of us together, despite how many times we were at the same place, sharing a laugh. I mourn that I will never hear you laugh again.
And I am unspeakably shattered that the only time I’ve ever said any of this to you is NOW, on a Facebook post you’ll never read.
I miss you, and I will miss you every day until I get to where you are now. I am comforted to know that your long struggle is over and you are finally resting, and I know I’m selfish to wish you could’ve hung around longer. I am forever in your debt, just for having known you, and if we have to have room-mates in Heaven, I hope you’ll consider moving your turn table off your spare bunk when I get there.