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I Miss Tina

It’s hard to know how to begin an entry like this. I just received an email from Curtis informing me that Tina Marie Weitbrock passed away Thursday night.

It is my deepest regret to inform all of you that my dearest friend Tina passed away Thursday night. After spending much of Friday and saturday crying, I made time to e-mail all of you. Tina and I met at Purdue University while I was one of the co-presidents for the LesBiGay Network. She and I instantly knew each other and became the most amazing friends. We both took ill at the same time; and, oddly enough, we both had the same cardiac condition. She was and is my soul sister. Even as I write this my tears are still falling from my face. Criag Yoder and I are going to the viewing tonight and the funeral tomorrow, but we are both an emotional wreck. I would like to ask each of you to send your love and healing energies to Craig, Tina’s family, and myself. Tina, Curtis and I met when we were at Purdue in West Lafayette. Curtis and I were officers in the LesBiGay Network, and Tina was a de facto addition to our triumvirate. I like to this of us as a trio — the three musketeers sort of thing — but truth be told Curtis and Tina were soulmates, bonded instantly; I’m just grateful to have been able to orbit that embodiment of humor, loyalty, love and friendship for the time I did.

It’s hard to get news like this and not ask yourself what you could have done differently, what you should have done while you had time. Tina and Curtis both live here in Indiana, and the state’s not that big, yet I haven’t seen either in nearly a year. Due to timing, I won’t be able to make visitation today; it’s still unclear regarding the funeral tomorrow. And so I fail to live up to obligations even in death. I suppose the lesson (because there has to be something out of a loss so senseless, doesn’t there?) is not to put off telling people things, not to assume you have another day. I miss Tina.

Tina was part of my first chosen family. Telling my parents, family and friends that I’m gay didn’t go well. The friends I kept were visibly uncomfortable hearing about my life — they wanted the old Nathan back, nevermind the fact that “old Nathan” was a complete and total fabrication. Tina, among others, took me into her heart and was one of the first people I can remember feeling truly loved me for who I am, not who they expected me to be or wanted me to become. She counseled me when I was trying to woo Ben, and comforted me when it ended.

After I told my pastor and then family in September, I was excommunicated from my church. I dropped out of school and moved home with to my parents’ house. By November I realized this wasn’t something I was able to change, or even wanted to. Curtis and Tina invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving in 1997 with them in West Lafayette. Neither of them wanted to be with their biological families, and they were kind enough to include me. My family, of course, couldn’t understand, but the memories I have of that holiday make it one of the brightest spots in my history.

We all spent the day cooking, drinking wine. When the sink clogged and garbage disposal wouldn’t budge it, we used a toilet plunger on it. It seemed very funny at the time, probably because Curtis’s roommate was obsessive compulsive about cleanliness, and had he known it happened would have called the landlord, insisting they replace the sink. Dinner was very, very late — turkey takes longer than you think — but when we ate, it was cool and dark outside, the area around campus desertted for the holiday break, and it seemed like we were in this coccoon of hopefulness and light.

Tina and Curtis started a tradition amongst our friends of hosting a “Leather and Lace” party. I don’t recall if they were every semester, or an annual tradition. What I do remember is Tina dressing as the Church Lady, that mistress of God with a riding crop, doing the good Lord’s work. She was incredibly funny, one of those people who could mock something sacrosanct without becoming bitter or closed minded.

I miss Tina.