It was news I’d expected, really. I’d kept track of him from a distance for years… finding out through our mutual friends where he was and what was going on. The news was never good – he was sinking deeper into the depths of addiction and the lifestyle that went with it. I didn’t understand it. I still don’t understand it. I never will understand it.
To me, he will always be the sweet boy who was on my side when some of the bigger kids tried to chase me in kindergarten. The one who put those heart-shaped boxes of candy in my valentine box in elementary school. The boy who asked me to be his date to the middle school bingo party at Darlington before the schools merged. The one I asked to go with me to my freshman prom at Thornwood – and he was the one who gave me my very first kiss behind the gym there. Things you never forget.
When the schools merged and we got into the same high school, it was evident that things were going to be different. We were in the same crowd, but not really. And he ended up graduating a year after me, which was probably a good thing for him because school work was really never his strong suit.
After school, I went to college, and he stayed in town… we went our separate ways as did all of us who hung together in high school. I saw him on occasion when I was in town, particularly at Christmas… for awhile he entertained the kids at the local mall playing Santa (we’ll just say he was always a sizeable fellow, and the Santa suit fit perfectly).
But then… I lost touch… and I think it was during that time that the drugs started to take hold. I’d hear snippets here and there… he was jailed… he was in a halfway house… one time he had straightened up and was actually working at a local Cracker Barrel and waited on my parents and me (it was a nice surprise). But to me, he vanished again.
I got the news today that I’d been dreading – that sweet boy who grew into a troubled man had finally lost his battle. I’m selfishly heartbroken at the loss of yet another part of my life; I’m saddened at the waste of it all.
Rest well, David. Whether you knew it or not, you were a very important part of my life, and I thank you for it. I hope you have found the peace that eluded you in this life as you enter the next.