I just found out today that one of my close childhood friends just overdosed and died.
This, of course, makes me sad.
We were very close during the first twelve years or so of my life. A Top Four Friend who sometimes elevated to Best Friend. As we grew into mid-teenagers, though, we began to lose touch with one another. Him choosing to explore the more wild, troubled, rebellious side of teenagedom, and me perhaps more comfortable remaining within the confines of sensibility.
He was always a very smart person, one who perhaps, as such, over-analyzed everything. As a result, he had, I’d say, a hard time finding himself, and as he grew into an adult, those troubles manifested themselves and he began to experience all manner of difficulties, psychologically speaking.
He kind of disappeared from my life for the past 20 years yet I’d frequently think of him and wonder how he was coping. I never really bothered to actually find out though, selfishly preferring to keep his troubles out of my life. About as far as I’d go in that respect was to ask my parents if they heard any updates about him from his parents, who live a few houses away. It was rare that his parents offered any updates on his status. And when they did, it was usually more of the same kind of news: trouble coping, rough times, hard news. Not exactly the kind of topic you want to bring up.
I felt guilty about 15 years ago, when our lives briefly intersected again. He was not in the best state, mentally, yet desired us to form a friendship. I rebuked him with what I thought, and still do think, were valid reasons why I couldn’t, at that time, entertain the potential for rekindling a friendship that would likely be rather needy from his side. I still feel bad for that. Not because I think I did the wrong thing, but because I wasn’t able to give him the support he needed at the time.
I hadn’t really heard a hing about him in the last 5 years, but tonight my mother called me to tell me she found out he died.
All kinds of implications in that word, but I’d rather not speculate on that.
I’d rather remember that he was the first friend I remember. I can still remember the first time we met, him a year older than me, arriving in short pants and introducing himself to me in my house, me playing alone at the time in my caged playpen.
I’d rather remember the incredibly fun times we had together as kids. Playing all kinds of sports, all the time it seemed. Inventing and playing all kinds of games. Going to the beach and riding in the back of his parents car, not seatbelted in child-seats, but unbuckled on the top of a couple of orange crates so we could see out the windows, laughing our heads off as the crates would tip over as we went around sharp turns.
I’d rather remember that, as teenagers, his musical taste and knowledge was leaps and bounds beyond mine and how his music appreciation ignited a similar fire in me.
I’d even rather remember those times when I saw him going down what I thought were the wrong paths in life and not being able to pull him back.
He always seemed to be searching, way too hard, for a simple, easy, peaceful state of mind. I hope he found some of that, at least for a brief moment or two.