Farewell For Now, My Friend

Lori Bee shares a bit about her friend Cullen Mieczkowski, who was killed by a drunk driver.

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Friday evening during rush hour, I heard the sirens from my home.   I live just off of May River Road, and unfortunately, it’s a sound I hear all too often.   There are so many wrecks around here.   I remember thinking, “I hope it’s not for anyone I know.”

I later went down to Peaceful Henry’s/Bluffton Cigar Bar for a smoke and beverage.   I do have a standing rule that if I have more than 2 drinks, I Uber home.   I only had 1 Truly.  And the nice thing about having a cigar is it makes you drink less and more slowly. But while I was there, I read a post on NextDoor that someone had been killed in the accident and that police had shut down Hwy 46 beyond Buckwalter (just beyond my home) to Gibbet Road, for the investigation.   The notice also said that the DUI suspect who fled the scene was apprehended.   I prayed for the victim and their family, still wondering who it was.  I went home early knowing I had a big day ahead.   The police and the flashing lights were at the corner of my neighborhood.   I was sad looking at them knowing somebody lost their life just up the road.

Yesterday (Saturday) morning I was on my way for the first time to the RBC Heritage Golf Tournament with a bunch of friends.  We were car pooling and I was riding with my friends Lindsey, KJ and Veronica.   Veronica’s husband Bill was in another vehicle and he called her.   He told her it was Cullen Mieckowski, who often came into Peaceful Henry’s.   I instantly cried out, “NO!  NO!”

I couldn’t stop sobbing off and on all day.  My friends offered to drive me back home but I said, “No.  Cullen wouldn’t like that.   He would like it if we all celebrated his life and his love of golf, all together. ”   And I knew I would be a wreck at home by myself.  I needed my friends and can’t thank them enough for their support yesterday.  It was a picture perfect day.   Just beautiful, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Cullen.  A lot of us were.

I first talked to Cullen when he signed up for real estate school in October of 2013 at the Keller Williams office where I was Team Leader at the time.   He explained to me that he had been in the lending business for a number of years and was looking into transitioning into being an agent.   He definitely was energetic, smart and enthusiastic about the future.  He always was.

He was from Cleveland and I teased him a bit about that, being I’m a diehard Pittsburgh fan.  He took it in good fun and we laughed together about it.  I can always respect a diehard fan, even of another team, and he had to be legit considering he obviously wasn’t fair-weather considering Cleveland’s football record.    I also told him the weather was much better here, and he said the golfing was too.   He loved golf.

CullenGolf

Long story short, Cullen completed his course and passed the real estate exam.   He was so excited but upon hearing I was no longer Team Leader, he decided to go to a different firm.  He always stayed in touch though and one day he called me and asked my opinion about new construction sales.  He remembered me talking about my experience with that in the Charlotte area, as new construction agent.  I said I thought he’d be great at it, as long as he didn’t mind weekends. Well in October of 2015, he started with K. Hovnanian Homes.  I was the first person to congratulate him on his Facebook post about it.    He excelled there working with another mutual friend, Nanie Ingram.

CullenScreenshot

 

I ran into him often at Peaceful Henry’s.   I had told him about the place that I’d come to call my “home away from home” since moving here when I was interviewing Cullen.   It became his hangout too, and I always enjoyed seeing his big, bright smile when he came in .  He was always thanking me for encouraging him to move here and with supporting his real estate career. Even during our last talk there.   He loved working at K Hov. and he loved living in the lowcountry.   We loved him here too.  Many of our mutual friends in the real estate industry and at Peaceful Henry’s, are deep in grief too.

CullenScreenshotLowcountryView

I will miss those talks.  He was so excited about the future.   I was SO PROUD of him.  He loved his life here.  We loved him too.  I just can’t believe we won’t see him again…

I am so grateful for our tradition at Peaceful Henry’s to hug everybody when we come in and usually when we leave.  I will treasure those hugs and those memories with Cullen. And I will miss him dearly.   I will never forget him.

Please, don’t drink and drive.  Uber.  Call a friend.  It’s just not worth it.

I hope I will see you on the other side someday, Cullen.   Love and prayers for your family and friends.

UPDATE 4/17/2017:  Please consider donating to Cullen’s Memorial Fund.  “We would like to assist his family in preparing for a service and memorial. Your donations in this difficult time are greatly appreciated.”

Thank you to Bill Kelly, Tanner Sutphin, and Daniel Moskowitz for setting the fund up.

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