Corey Yardley

Dream Big

A summary of what i have completed in, “Dream Big”- a Memoir.

with one comment

I never got the opportunity to make any memories with my dad. He was shot and killed near my hometown in rural Iowa when I was only 4 years old. Growing up I heard multiple theories on how he died, but I always stayed as far away from the subject as possible.
I started writing my memoir “Dream Big” when I was 20 years old. 20 was the age that I lost Caleb, one of my best friends of over 13 years in a car accident. He was found dead in a bean field by my dad’s best friend John Smith, who also watched my dad get shot 15 years earlier. What’s even more strange is that both my dad and my friend died on the same day, June 20th, 15 years apart.
This strange coincidence is what made me finally uncover the death of my father. I started writing “Dream Big” 2 years ago, in June of 2009. To be honest, I thought that this was going to be another one of my unfinished projects that last a day or two. This wasn’t the case however, as I am still learning something new about myself each and every time I that I sit down and write.
It is unlikely that “Dream Big” will become a best-seller, or that my story will bring me riches or fame. Writing down my first 22 years of my life has helped me get to know my father, taught me about “life in general”, and most importantly; I learned about my own self more than I would have ever imagined. My hopes are that the reader will compare their story to mine, and that they too learn something about themselves or about “life in general”.
When I tell people who don’t know anything about me that I’m writing a book about my life, most don’t believe that I have enough material because I’m only 22 years-old. They couldn’t be more wrong, because I have had an eventful 22 years. I was raised by my mother, with the help of her parents. When my dad died Mom bounced back a few years later and started dating again. I don’t have any memories of my father, but I do remember Mom dating Joel. I also remember the day that Mom told me that I was going to be a big brother. Unfortunately Joel left us, too, only he left voluntarily when he found out mom was pregnant. It was just my brother, Cullen, Mom, and me for most of my childhood.
Most people in town probably felt sorry for me since I didn’t have a father figure in the house, but I rarely ever said the words, “I wish I had a dad”. Not even to myself. Mom could do it all.
I grew up in the same small town that my mom and dad grew up in, and I attended and graduated from the same small school district located in that same small town- Iowa Valley Schools in Marengo, Iowa. There was only one thing that I knew about my dad other than the fact that he was dead- he was a legendary wrestler at Iowa Valley. He was a 2 time individual state champion, and the wrestling program at our school made sure no one forgot my dad and his brother. They both have enormous plaques in the trophey case, their names were on the wrestling mat used at home meets (along with their date of birth and death) and the annual youth wrestling tournament is called, “The Chad and Tracy Dietze Youth Tournament”. I later learned that my dad’s brother Tracy died of braina cancer a few years after my dad passed.
Ever since the 2nd grade I was pressured to wrestle. From 2nd grade-12th grade I was told that wrestling was “in my blood” and that I could be a state champion.
I tried it, and didn’t like it. But mostly I think that I knew subconsciously that I would always be compared to my dad. Blocking him out was a much easier route than trying to fill his shoes.
I never asked questions about him, and basically followed Mom’s lead on pushing forward and moving on with our lives. Other than an incident where a teacher brought up my dad’s murder which was complete gossip and mostly made up, I made it through high school without having to discuss the subject of my dad.
Most would look at the time line of my life and guess that my childhood was the most tragic. However, 17 up until this very day have been very difficult on me.
17 was when my mom married Jamie. I felt replaced and hated that she moved out of Marengo, even though it was only 15 miles away. (Ironically I later learned that Victor, where we moved was the town that my dad was murdered in.). Even though I was unaware of it, this is where my depression began. I stayed with friends and with my grandparents, hoping my rebellion would cause Mom to go back to just the three of us. This only made things worse for the both of us.
Mom and I constantly were at each others throats towards the end of my senior year of high school. I didn’t want to graduate, the thought of no sports, and my friends being in different parts of the state, and having to go to a new school for the first time in my life made me dread college. I did nothing to prepare myself, and this is what started most of our fights. Which always ended with me telling her how much I hated her and how much she had changed for the worse.
She thought I was setting myself up to fail, and looking back now she was right. About everything. I was the problem. But luckily and surprisingly I loved my first semester of college- I had fun, I partied, I did exceptionally well in school, and remained happy. I went into college thinking I would hate it, but surprisingly that first semester of college was definitely the best months of my entire life.
Once the winter came along though, tragedy struck again. I lost two good friends of mine- Alex Slaymaker and Chris Roberts in the same accident. They were in Chris’ car when he lost control during an ice storm January 19th. He was going too fast and once they hit the ditch they were ejected from the vehicle and died on impact.
This was the first time that I had to actually cope with death.
The depression came back and started to slowly grow. But it got lost in the entire week of funerals, visitations, and hours spent crying with friends. This is when I started pretending to be happy.
If it weren’t for Chris’ accident I don’t know if I ever would have met the current love of my life- Erynn Renee DeRycke. I met her when friends and family of Chris mourned together in the Robert’s household the same night he was pronounced dead. Chris was from Victor and was the first friend I made when we moved. He always gave me shit because I never was in town. But if I was I almost always called him to hang out.
Both Chris and Alex had an enormous amount of friends in the area. They were the life of the party and definitely lived their lives to the fullest, even if it was cut short.
It seemed like there were hundreds of people at the Roberts’ that night. Most of the kids from Victor that I was familiar with were up in Chris’ younger sister Macie’s room. There were probably 25-30 high schoolers with the same shocked look on their faces. But Erynn stood out. I couldn’t help but stare until I remembered that this was not the time nor the place.
I left the Roberts’ at around 6 and tried sleeping on the couch at home. I slept off and on for an hour, the only reason that I was sure that I did indeed fall asleep was the fact that I had a dream. It was of Erynn, even though I didn’t know her name, or anything about her. But I kissed her anyway. I didn’t think anything of it though, until she approached me at one of Victor’s high school basketball games.
Erynn introduced herself to me with one of her friends, gave me her number, and still to this day has no idea why she did this. She’s normally very shy and passive, and admits that she was way out of character that night.
We dated after a week of getting to know each other. It’s unfortunate that she never knew me before I lost Chris and Alex, maybe then she would have noticed the changes inside of me.
It was difficult to concentrate in school that 2nd semester. I smoked marijuana daily after class, sometimes even before. At the time I thought I was just trying to have fun, but it’s obvious I was self-medicating. My roommate and I didn’t even party or socialize anymore. We basically stayed inside our apartment or were in class.
Marijuana is by no means a good thing, but I could have been doing much worse things.
After school was over with I moved back to my grandparents/friends houses and spent most of my summer working or hanging out at Erynn’s house.
After working all Summer I decided that I didn’t want to spend my money on rent and would just commute to school every other day. That Fall I actually enjoyed having everything scattered. I lived with whoever would let me stay the night, usually Marengo, Cedar Rapids, Ben’s house, South Amana, etc. I worked part time at a mall in Williamsburg, Iowa, and I went to school in Cedar Rapids, so I was always moving around.
I did fairly well in school considering how busy I was with work, and all the time and energy I spent driving.
I was even selected to tutor fellow college students that struggled in some of the courses I excelled in like sociology, psychology, etc.
Staying this busy kept my mind off of everything, there was no time to be worried.
I lived and loved this crazy lifestyle all year. For some reason I loved the stress, even though I complained about it daily. I applied for a management position at GAP, the biggest clothing store at the mall in Williamsburg once school was finished for the Summer.
I got the job and stayed very busy learning and adapting for the first part of the Summer. School went well that year, I was tutoring and taking honors courses, and now a promotion? I felt unstoppable!
Until I got the call from Mom on the morning of June 20th that one of my best friends died. I fell apart, my outlook on life changed. My future changed. My friends changed, I changed, everybody changed.
Nothing made sense until my mom told me a couple days after the accident that Caleb was found by John, and that June 20th was the same day that my dad was killed and that John saw my dad die.
I wrote a letter to Caleb and wanted to read it to his mom just to reassure her of how much I loved him. She cried throughout the entire letter and asked me if I would read it at the funeral.
This was the first time I ever wrote something straight from the heart. It wasn’t assigned or graded. It wasn’t even written for an audience. But I read it in front of a gymnasium packed full of people, and it actually felt good considering the circumstances.
After Caleb’s death I was no longer afraid to talk about my dad. I even arranged meetings with his best buddies in school, including John Smith. The relationship between me and my dad’s parents is getting better, but I’m still not all the way there yet. They give me the most useful and accurate information though.
I don’t know if you see what is connecting these events that led me to writing, “Dream Big”, but I do. It may seem like a tangled mess to anyone else except me. But it would make my day if you genuinely understand why I am writing down my life story. Thank you for your time, and Dream Big!

Written by coreyyardley

August 9, 2011 at 1:12 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. You are a shining star, kiddo! You make everyone who cares about you proud! Keep Dreaming BIG, and reach for the stars, bud!!!


    August 9, 2011 at 2:48 PM

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