Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011: Another Date to Remember


Well, remember how last Monday marked a happy and sad occasion related to birth and death?  Ali turned five, 6 months to the day that Bella died.  Well, today I experienced a similar thing: one of our best couple friends out here had their second baby today.  April 18 was also the day my 5 best friends were murdered in my hometown in 1995.  You can read about it here.  Today was the 16th anniversary, and it was particularly raw given what the grief I am going through with Bella.  I was close to several of my friends' parents, and now I share a weird bond with them.  So, another day of mixed emotions, phone calls, memories.  I spent about an hour just reading all the old archived articles about my friends, I don't want to forget their story and let them die the second death, as Mitch Albom described so well in Have a Little Faith.  That is when the dead are forgotten, and their no one knows the story of the life behind the name merely inscribed on a tombstone.  Well, thank to you, me, and this blog thing, they won't die the second death just yet.

My friends are Dave Froelich, Scott Auerbach, Sean Hiltunen, Dave Gartrell, and Jason Trusewicz.  We used to all hang out together in our home town of Redding, CT.  Home to maybe 8,000 people and 10,000 deer, where there are no stop lights and no strip malls, Redding is essentially the space between the dots on a map.  In other words, it is BEAUTIFUL.  There were 8 of us in all that ran together, with our friends Doug and Mattie rounding out the group.  We were fun-loving, easy-going, full-of-life group of guys who were loyal friends to each other.  The boys loved adventure, the outdoors, and just hangin' out.  Didn't matter what the plan was, as long as the crew was together.

I'm not going to tell the whole tale here.  Their story is one of the anchor chapters in my next book, which is a prequel to Bella's Blessings.  It is in manuscript form and will need some shine to get it ready for self publication, so stay tuned.

Let me put it this way... know how I always talk about how important your response to life's events is to the outcome?  My mission as a music therapist came from their deaths.  I would not be exactly where I am right now if April 18, 1995 came and went like so many other days.  It changed my life forever, and out of it, I pledged to heal the planet with music, and one person at a time, that's what I do as a music therapist.

Thanks, boys.  Your sacrifice gave me the chance to help others for the rest of the time I am still here.  Each and every patient I treat is given the gift of music largely because of you.  If we didn't go through exactly what we went through, I wouldn't have had the honor of being the soundtrack of my own daughter's transformation into life and afterlife, either.  Thanks for that, too.

There was a song I used to sing to them at our local Saloon at open mic night, and today, I grabbed my guitar, and played it for them.  Since I would play my guitar all the time when we used to all run together, I then settled in to some of the old songs from that time frame.  After the old songs, I asked them if they wanted to hear some of my new stuff on my nylon string guitar, but they wanted instead to hear me let it rip on my steel string like in the old days.  So, I began to detune my guitar and just go for it.  I changed into a cool open drone tuning and started to wail on my guitar like I can't even remember.  It felt so good because I truly was in that space of pure improvisation where I wasn't 'thinking' about what I was doing, I was just 'feeling' what I was doing, and 'listening' to what I was doing, and playing off that.  I really needed that, and so did they, for when it was over, there was a feeling in the room of 6 people smiling and savoring the silence the comes after the sound.  It was at this point in the day where I knew I had honored my friends, and they had blessed me with a visit, and they had not died the second death today after all.

Thank you for letting me tell you about my friends, and their role in shaping who I have become.   I'll leave you with the lyrics I wrote for them, called "Homeward Bound," and the last known picture of (from left to right) Scott Auerbach, David Froelich, and Jason Trusewicz.  BTW, Dave was my best friend from when I was 2 yrs old.

Homeward Bound    By Tim Ringgold

The friends that I had when I was young
Are from the same little town I am from
Whenever I feel I’ve lost my way
I know they’ll be waiting there for me

That’s why I am homeward bound

The year that I had to leave home
I learned what it means to be alone
I searched around for some glimpse of my friends
But all I had were the memories in my head

I long to be homeward bound

Well a year’s passed and maybe a day
My friends have all gone their own way
I’m far from the land where I was small
But I’ll never forget my friends from home

So now I am homeward bound
I long to be homeward bound
That’s why I am homeward bound

God night.


  1. I read the article from your sorry for your loss. There's nothing better than having "old" friends..I'm happy you carry them in your heart.

  2. Love the old photo...beautiful.

    Thanks for sharing...


  3. Oh my dear Lord, that is absolutely eye opening. I read the article that was linked. Gosh, your life has certainly had its ups and downs, and much in between. Thanks for this blog to open up your life and your experiences.

  4. So sorry for your losses, Tim.


  5. You dont think of something like that happening in such a small town. There is always that thought "That only happens in a big city". What a heartbreaking story of lives "done" too soon. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Thank you for sharing your friends with us.

    Denise WI

  6. Read about your friends and I am speechless. You sure have had your share of grief in your life, my friend.
    Thanks for sharing their story. They will not be forgotten. I am so sorry for your losses. Hoping that the coming days are a little brighter for you. Take care and Keep the Faith. Love and Hugs Leah's Nana

  7. tim - you spoke at a doc retreat several years when we were both at chapman, and i remember very clearly you telling the story of your friends murders. it was then when it really hit me - my friend back home (similar to yours - population 10,000 in the middle of nowhere) had been murdered by her boyfriend while i was away at college the year before, and here you were talking about your own experience and the horrific grief that goes along with it, especially when having to deal with it from far away. your words then were very moving and spoke directly to my heart, and some 5-6 years later they still are. there are no words when the punch to the gut comes when that date rolls around, but my thoughts are with you. thank you for sharing.


  8. Tim, I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my best friend to a terrible illness. I can't imagine losing several. My thoughts and prayers go out to you on the anniversary of this tragedy.

  9. I am so sorry that you lost your friends to such a tragedy. I had a close friend years ago who was shot by her husband. It shatters the illusion that everyone in the world has good intentions. It is shocking when these things happen.
    But, I believe there is still good in this world. I know there are good people and that the Father of our Souls loves us and wants good for us.


  10. I knew Dave, I was spending a little time remembering and came upon this post. Thanks for the image - it brings the memories back into focus. I was also reading about his dad, great man and another great loss.