Going back and forth and back again.
This is a pretty difficult thing for me to write. 25 years is a long time to hold on to something, yet it wasn’t until this last year that I realized it was actually holding onto me.
25 years ago, you passed away. You were just a kid. That’s it. That’s all I can really think about. That’s all I’ve ever really thought about it. The problem, the thing that’s been holding me, is that there is so much more in my memory.
We were at summer camp. Mid-week, sunny weather, the days of our youth. What a week that was! I had all my best friends in my cabin. I know you had some friends there, too. I can remember your friend Dave was there. 25 years ago and I remember your friend.
It was the evening and they had decided to take us over to the property up the road. We were going over there, about 60 of us kids, to have a wiener roast. I remember the sunshine. I remember the gravel road that we set out on. They hitched a wooden wagon to the back of a pick-up truck and lugged all 60 of us up the road.
I met you. I never knew you before, but we met. I had a Casio wrist watch and I noticed that you had the same one. That’s it. Just you and I, sharing a moment. Acting mature for a couple of 11 year olds. Almost unlike me, a quiet, shy kid, to strike up a conversation. Must have been the weather. Must have been the company, too.
We made it up the road. At the wiener roast I was back with my friends. Chatting about the kind of fun we had and that kind of fun we were gonna have. Lots of good times left in the week. We alluded to the girls we had crushes on. There they were, across the fire pit. We dreamed of summer romance. We were kids.
The roast ended, and we headed back. Something wasn’t making sense, so a bunch of us started to walk down the road. I don’t remember why, but we did, and it wasn’t bad. But then, the truck and wagon showed up. It slowed down, as slow as it could, and a bunch of us jumped on. I think others just decided to walk. So there were a bunch of us on the wagon. It didn’t stop, just slowed down. I didn’t know why, didn’t seem to be a problem at the time.
Then I remember when it all wasn’t right. I was sitting in the middle of the wagon, on a bale. Surrounded by dozens of other kids.
Thump. Thump. I can still feel it. I can still feel it go up my back. It was so unexpected. The moment stands still in my mind. I looked up to see what everyone else was trying to see. What did we run over? What is going on?
There you were. laying on your side. Then I remember you getting up. He’s okay! But you weren’t okay. Bone where your skin should have been. Bone and blood. Your arm wasn’t right, I knew it. Your mouth was red. You fell down again and the poor man in charge scooped you up like a bundle of muddy sticks. Unhooked the truck, off you went.
I remember Jeff running back to pick up your hat for you. I don’t know what he did with it. He was just a kid.
A van drove past again, taking you away to be saved.
We got off of the wagon and walked on into the rest of our lives. The rest of the week was left in tears. Lots of sitting. Police and pastors. Kids holding hands. Singing songs together. My cousin and I went down to the lake to pray for you. I remember.
In the morning they told us that you could not be saved. I remember it not making any sense. You stood up. It didn’t make sense that you could be gone. You were just a kid. You had your Casio watch, too. You were supposed to lose it, like I lost mine a few years later. You were supposed to get a new one. Lots of new ones. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it and I don’t think that I ever did. You’d never get another watch, and that was a strange thing to think about, but it’s what I did think about and it was awful.
I want to hold your memory close. You mean a lot to me, as strange as that might seem. Watch buddy. But I can’t stand that memory when it grips my heart so tightly. I need to sget this out. I need to get all of it out of me so that I can build on something new.
Otherwise I’m crippled. There’s too much fear in raising my kids. They’re just kids, you know? One of them will be 11 in a little over a year. Just like us, Paul. Just like you and me, back then. That wagon ride. It was such a nice day. Super weather. The perfect evening for a wiener roast. The perfect conversation struck up between two engaging kids.
25 years ago, and time still has its grip on me. The Casio watch. The one I was wearing the day that you died. I lost it somewhere. Maybe at the pool, I don’t quite remember. I want to lose my fear, too. Of that day, and the hurt it still brings. Time hasn’t really helped all that much at all.
I’ve been out on the road less than I’d like, if I’m being honest. My job is busy, my kids have been filling up the schedule with baseball, and a million other excuses have brought me to a slight plateau. I’m still getting out the 3 times a week at minimum, throwing down an average of 17 miles. But that’s below my goal of 25/week.
I think it’s just a lull. I’ve got a bit of an abdomen injury that might have something to do with it, but nothing serious. With my marathon only 53 days away, I’ve got to get at it!
Digging in the dirt is quite a nice thing. I’ve only got little kid-sized garden tools, so I really get in there! The watering barrel has been at encouraging levels these days, so I can’t complain.
Overall, life feels like its pressing down on me. It kind of hurts sometimes, but it’s forcing the good parts of myself to the surface. This summer is going to be a wild ride and I’m thankful for moments like this, and like when I’m running or digging, that remind me to not take everything so seriously.
Lately I have been really trying hard to be aware and present. I want to be present with everything that is going on around me. I’m turning 36 next month and I’ve breezed through too many days.
Way too many.
So I fight for every second for clarity. I need to step back, in my mind, and appreciate things a little bit at a time, step by step, each hour, each day. Piece by piece. Moment by moment. One person at a time.
Things are getting pretty weird out there. We’ve got news, fake news, people posting strange news from CNN, Fox, NY Times, and people finding articles from wherever they can find something that agrees with their opinions, posting them, crossing their arms, and then done… point made!
Weird world, man. It’s really all about what you already believe, isn’t it? Anything anyone else says is just noise, right? Or more accurately, it’s just trash.
I ran a bunch of miles this year partly because I want people to be impressed with me.
I’ve been a fake in most areas of my life. It’s not that I’ve been pretending or misleading, but just that when I really look into things like my personality, activities, and pretty much everything else about me, I find an element of falseness. It’s there, trying to in grain itself in me. It’s not who I am, but it’s become a piece of the puzzle.
This is me.
I am 35, happily in love with my sweet wife, and the father of 2 very keen boys, ages 7 and 8. I am left handed, bald and I wear glasses. I am bowlegged. I’m not sure how much of this is applicable to this post, yet these are the facts and here they are.
When I was about 10 years old, I fell in love with hockey. I was into it all; from watching Hockey Night in Canada to playing street hockey at 7pm in the dark winters of Alberta, I gave my time and my thoughts to the game.
There was once a man named Michael. He was a good man. Everyone thought of him as a good man, and more so, he was a good man even when no one was looking.
One day he fell in love and got married to a beautiful woman. Their love was so deep and strong. They enjoyed their lives together so much so that they needed to have children to share their love with.
I woke up 10 minutes before my phone alarm went off. For some reason, my body anticipates what’s going to happen and warns me about it. I hate waking up to an alarm, but of course, I need to, so I set it.
An interesting thing about people is that we are guarded. We walk around with imaginary walls to keep out whatever might come our way. This means that our lives are full of chit chat and how ya doin’. Small talk isn’t a completely evil thing, but I think that there is at least a little evil in it.