One of my son's childhood friends died a couple of days ago. I had not seen Jacob in several years--not since the CD and DVD exchange store he managed closed it doors and I no longer had a chance to stop there to talk with him about music and movies. Even Andy had not seen him in over a year, and once upon a time when they both were teenagers and then high school graduates it seemed Jacob was at our house as often as not.
Jacob died of a drug overdose--heroin.
He was a great kid and we always liked to see him around. Jacob seemed level-headed and responsible and had a good job both before he graduated high school and after. There never seemed to be a time when he was not smiling and never a moment when he was around that he didn't make everyone else feel happier. In brief, he was a very nice person and we were always cheered to see him come walking through the door with Andy.
I have no idea what made him take heroin. It makes no sense to me, nor did it to Andy--but who knows what drives a person? Perhaps it was depression? I honestly cannot tell you.
The memorial service today was overflowing. Easily 300 people. The folk running the service barely had enough space to provide everyone with parking.
Carole and I arrived for the service and immediately I became depressed, recalling what a nice young man Jacob had always been. And of course there is nothing on Earth so heartbreaking as seeing a mother who has lost a child. Mothers are not supposed to live to see their children precede them in death and when I see it I always am filled with despair.
I like to think of myself as a stoic. Sometimes I think I would have made a good Brit. Stiff upper lip and all that, you know. That's me. I try to keep most of my emotions at bay, especially despair and grief. Anger, I can handle--and sometime welcome. But sadness is not my old friend and I try to keep him far away. But today...seeing Jacob's mother in the throes of complete misery, I had to admit that bastard sadness into my life. Despite my best efforts to hold it in, seeing my own son in tears over his old pal fleeing this life, and memories of Jacob's ever-present smiles and laughter, I could not forestall those tears, either. They came, even if I hadn't seen that boy in several years. He had been a part of my own son's life for so long that I could not help it.
Jacob was 31 years old. Yes, a man of course, but my memory of him was as a kid a little older than my boy. The snuffing out of his brief life is a tragedy, and I cannot imagine what his mother has been enduring the past few days and what she must endure for the rest of her life.
Several people spoke. His older brother, his minister, his girlfriend. They talked about how happy he made them. But his younger brother also spoke, and he was bitter and angry. He had not known his older brother who had loved him so and had made him laugh so hard was tormented with a drug problem. Few, apparently, were aware. And this kid brother admitted his anger toward those who knew and did not tell others, who did not help.
Maybe that anger will help see him through all of this. I hope so. Whatever gets you through the night, my friend.