Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I'm lucky

Technically, I've never lost anyone close to me.

David was an only child who had been emotionally torn apart by his parents' divorce at a young age. So when he decided to latch on to you, the friendship ran deeper. Ours was a brotherhood and it became so in a very short time.

We were very close friends from about the fifth grade on through high school. We lived in the same town, went to school and church together, he and his mother even lived with us while they were house hunting. We were Hawkeye and BJ.

We did just about everything together, even the stuff that young and mischievous teens aren't supposed to do (read: egg peoples houses, skip school, make youth leaders cry). Oh, and then there was the wrestling!

Before Fantasy sports became popular, we had started a grass roots fantasy wrestling federation complete with more than 50 characters, homemade championship belts (from poster board), year-long story lines involving multiple characters, monthly "pay-per-view" events, the whole schmere!

We did it all as real as we could. We would wrestle each other - picking theme music and costumes - and every match we played the different characters true to their persona, signature moves, to our pre-set story lines. We had so much fun knocking each other with metal chairs and running each other into steel cages (the steel cages were the metal bases of his bunk beds)!

The submission moves we did for real. Yes, most of them hurt. The big power moves, we also did for real. Yes, those are scary and some of them hurt, but I'd have to say that those years spent as hardcore wrestling fanatics were the happiest of my childhood. I have him to thank for that. I'll never forget David, nor the amount of hours we joyfully poured ourselves into emulating the antics of those modern day television gladiators.

Sadly, after I moved to New Orleans before our senior year of high school, David lost touch of the important things. Gone were the innocent days of adolescent rabble-rousing. Instead, he got into very bad things and became familiar with very bad people and before long had submersed himself in what they were doing - and what they were selling. More and more the David I knew was being replaced by a dark and distant stranger.

Involved in drugs and living in filth, my friend was lost in hopelessness. I tried to get him to recognize his situation - to snap out of it- but he was stubborn. When I told him he was better than this he said that he didn't see a point in walking the straight and narrow when the person helping him stay there had moved away.

I never believed that. Honestly, I don't think he believed it either.

It was then that, inside, I said goodbye to my friend. I washed my hands of him in hopes that he would get his life back in order.

Years passed.

I was getting ready to go on-air one morning when the phone rang. It was my sister. She sounded deflated. Somber. I knew something was wrong. She had just been told that David had a seizure and hit his head on the bathroom sink. With no one else home, David died on the floor where he fell.

That's it. No parades, no whistles, no sirens. No big announcements or proclamations. No warnings. Just like that, David was gone.

Before the funeral, David's mother told mine that he had begun to straighten our his life. He shook away the drugs, moved away from the influence, and was starting over. He was happy in his home state of Tennessee living near family and was enjoying his new job. He had been trying to find me and had heard something about my being in Television in West Virginia. But he never got around to contacting me.

Technically, I've never lost anyone close to me.

It hurts like hell.

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