Years ago I learned something important. I learned that everything important to you will someday be taken from you. The scary part is you might even take some of those things away from you yourself. I remember this as November slowly approaches. This is on the list of things I have never told anyone and I don’t even know if I will publish this as it hits very close to home.
I grew up in a very abusive home. I was always the odd ball, meaning normal as these people are far from it, and because of that I was constantly the center of the abuse from parents and siblings. I found ways to cope with it all. the main way which is still with me is to create a part of me that could go away and be someplace else while these things happened. I could lock myself away and when I needed to I could come back out and lock those memories far away. In fact I do not remember a lot of my childhood and the things I do remember are usually not pleasant.
By the time I was 12 I had this down to a science and it was easy to do. I also had a much better coping mechanism and that was just to never be around. When I woke up at 5:30 am I would get ready and leave my house and would not return unless I knew no one was home or when it was time to go to bed. During school I would just go to the bus stop very early just to avoid everything. I lived by hanging out with the few friends I had. The main friend I had was my best friend. He was the only one who really lived close enough and his family was very nice and friendly. I was able to talk to him about anything and we had a lot of fun together. His family had their share of issues but still remained happy. I was always amazed at how happy they could be despite everything. To this day I still don’t know how they could live through the things they have gone through.
One day we walked home from school together instead of riding the bus. It was November and it wasn’t too cold but you knew it would only be days before it was snowing. As we walked home we talked and laughed and did the normal things. Once we got to his house I knew he had baseball practice, he was the best pitcher in his league, so I said see you later and began walking home. I was probably about 100 feet from him when he called out to me. I cannot even remember what he said, but I can see it like a movie. I turned around he said something, we laughed and waved to each other and I turned and went home. I never saw him again.
The next day, a Saturday, my parents uncharacteristically woke me up. The looked at me for a moment and then said the needed to tell me something. My mother told me that my friend had recently been diagnosed with diabetes. This I already knew and I had thought nothing of it. His little brother already had it and was on a pump. Besides no one dies from diabetes. Well she told me that after his game last night he went to take a bath. After being in the bathroom for an abnormal amount of time his parents forced open the door and found him drowned in the bath tub. He went into insulin shock and drowned. I just stared at my parents. I knew they were lying. My friend would not die. He was 12.
I remember that I did not cry. My parents just left the room and I sat there for a while in stunned silence. I thought about all the things we talked about doing the day before. He would not leave me and not be able to do those things. Plus who would I talk to, we were best friends. We went to the same church and the next day the family was there and everyone was telling them how sorry they were. Dinners were lined up to bring them and it was a very sad day. The most vivid thing I remember is them sitting a few rows in front of us and I could just see them sitting there. It was almost like it was just another Sunday. I had a hard time even being there. Just being there made me angry.
The next day at school it was all anyone talked about. All of a sudden he had 15 best friends and 15 girlfriends and they all were the closest to him. I could not believe the fakeness of it all. He was popular and very well liked by everyone because he was a good kid. He was friendly to everyone and did not put himself above anyone else but how everyone talked just made me angrier.
A few days later was the viewing. I remember still thinking that this was one big evil plan to hurt me, that it was not real. The viewing was being held at a local mortuary, whose owners happened to have a kid in the same grade as us. He played on the baseball team with my friend. I remember walking up and seeing so many people there. I could not believe it. Being 12 I did not get that he and his family had more connections to people than just who I knew. I waited an hour to go through the line to see him laying in the coffin. I remember walking up and looking at him and thinking this is not my friend. This is someone else, where is my friend. Whoever this was, I knew it was not him. I got more and more angry. I went out side as I could not be in the room with him anymore. I just sat outside until I could not be there any longer and I walked the 3 miles home.
The funeral was held at the church as couple days later. There were more people than I could even count. The church could not hold all the people who came. I don’t even remember the ceremony. I just remember looking at the coffin and thinking that is not him. I remember being angry. I sat there trying to conjure fireballs with my mind and fling them at people. At the end of the ceremony his relatives and then his baseball team got up and carried the coffin out to the waiting hearse. They loaded it up and then everyone went to their cars to go to the burial. I could not take any more. Who were all these people? I knew him the best and I never talked to any of these people. Even after all of this no one ever even talked to me about it. I got more and more angry. I walked the few blocks to his house. I rang the door bell just to see if he might be there. I sat in front of his house for a while and then I walked home. I still never cried, I did not understand. I remember going home and just going to bed. I laid there and started thinking of the things we had done. I began pushing things into my safe place in my head. I put it in there to keep it safe, to move it far away. I pushed it down, everything I could think of that had to do with him. All I have left is what I described above and even that took a lot to dig up.
After that day I was fine. I picked out a tree to plant in the front of our church in his memory. It was difficult to plant it because the ground was so cold. We did not think it would even survive, but some how it survived the winter and is still there. I have never been to another funeral since. I don’t think I could make it through all of it again. But in then end it taught me to keep things at a distance. If you get too attached all you get is heartache, but if it happens I can have the special side in my head to take those memories and bury them deep down where they will never be remembered. A place that will make the other part of me okay again. A place where I don’t need to cry.
3 thoughts on “How Do You Get To Become Who You Are?”
That’s such a sad story. I’m sorry you had to go through that. I too have lost a dear friend. It sucks for sure, and not sure you ever truly get over it. 😕
It has been buried for so long. I was surprised it popped back up and in the detail it has. It feels like someone is trying to break into the vault of secrets in my head. Luckily I have my other half there guarding it. Maybe he needs a raise to do a better job. But you are right I don’t think you do ever get over it. I have three friends who I hung out with all die suddenly while I was in high school. It is not something I would wish on anyone.
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That’s rough, for sure. I had a close friend in college commit suicide, no warning, no note. Just one day there, next day not. 25 years ago this past July. Don’t think about it often anymore but did this summer. It was like reliving it all over again, to a degree. But then I thought more about the fun and good times more than him dying. So that’s a good thing, to remember the good too.