I’m going to take you back to a pretty great time in my life. The kids were in the final years of single digits and we had begun hanging around some really fun families.
Good folks. Firefighters, volunteers in Little League and the schools. Our social paths crossed so much, it was like we were one big extended family.
Among them was an undersized kid who’s name I’ll leave out of this reflection. I’ll call him “R”.
R (not standing for “runt” was always the little guy in the group. Maybe that’s part of what made him so feisty. He did what most boys his age did, but always pushed it just that little bit further. When I helped coach him in Little League, he took the game pretty seriously. At the family functions, he was one of my son’s buds. At the family fishing trip over at Blue Lake, he’d be the first one out in the boat and would catch as many fish as his fishing line could handle.
Somewhere along the line, he went off the track. I remember seeing him smoking and I thought, “That’s too bad; at such a young age”.
Then, he slipped into the drug world…and eventually, went through rehab.
He came out seemingly like he had learned from his mistakes. He picked up a job and to be honest, I lost track of him. I’m no longer in that circle of friends and just assumed he had chosen a simple blue collar life.
But alcohol would not let him go, or visa-versa. Whatever anger he suppressed about his existence when sober came out when he drank.
How do I know that? Because, I’m told, that last night after an evening of drinking and a fight with his girlfriend, he took a gun into his own backyard, called up his buddies at the bar and while they were on the phone with him, he ended his life. Really messed up.
As the world continues to spin out of control, word spread about his suicide through postings on Facebook.
I just have to sit here and reflect and wonder, at what point do you raise your hand and say, “Hey! Get control of your life!” Suicide is a cliche in the movies, but the impact it has on real life has never been accurately measured. Not even close.
I don’t know what went on in the moments before he made his last mistake on earth, but that wasn’t the freckle-face kid that I coached.
My heart goes out to his family, his friends and the countless others that cared about him.
I won’t remember how his life ended, but I will always recall the kid in the baseball cap with a huge string of fish he had just caught at Blue Lake.