Sunday, January 29, 2012

Funeral for a Friend

Looking around at the people sitting in the pews was surreal.  Some were familiar, while others had changed drastically.  Hadn't I sat next to that guy in English my Jr. year?  Why can't I remember his name??

There was a time when my life intertwined with this group daily -- sitting in classrooms, cheering in stadiums, roaming through hallways lined with lockers.  Three years of dating, loitering, dancing, laughing, studying, working, and playing made us a close clan.  I loved these souls like family.  It never occurred to any of us in those days, how the choices we made then, would affect our future lives.

Today was an accounting of sorts, as we stared at the pine box at the front of the room.  Minds deep in thought as each of us pondered who we were then, and who we are now; how our personal actions had influenced, for better or worse, the friend whose life was cut short as a result of addictions.  The answers could be seen in the bowed heads, and shoulders that shook in sync with heavy sobs, while teenage daughters stood at the pulpit and paid tribute to their father.  Daughters much too young to be picking out caskets and writing eulogies.

A woman sat down at the piano and began to play -- a melody we all used to sing in unison at the top of our lungs:  Sing us a song, you're the Piano Man, sing us a song tonight . . .   

It transported me back to an 8-track tape player mounted to the dashboard of a yellow Maverick, and it's driver, a blonde haired boy who wore surgeon pants to school.  He was so carefree then.  A good soul who made me laugh with his telling of funny stories.  A friend who would listen when you needed to pour your heart out.  He saved my life once, on a summer day when we were cliff jumping at a lake.   I was injured and too tired to swim.  He pulled me out from under the water just as I began to drown.  I'll be forever grateful that he rescued me when I was in trouble.  How I wish that I could have saved him too.

 I don't know when it first started, but there came a time in high school when the boy started drinking, and using drugs.   Sadly, like friends who died recently under similar circumstances,  the boy couldn't stop.   As the years passed, his addiction became rope-like, binding tighter and tighter, until he no longer had the power to break free.  His body grew weary, and last week, his heart finally rebelled.

How did this all happen in the first place? Why did a sweet boy from a loving family turn to drugs?  Was there too much pressure to fit in?  Did he have feelings of worthlessness?  Were drugs an escape?

I wish I had answers to make sense of it all.  But I don't, and never will.

What I do know is this:  It was a huge price to pay -- those choices at 16.  If the boy had understood then, that this is how it would end, he would he have done things differently.

 If he realized just how much he was loved by the people who sat in the pews, he would have fought for himself, and the chance to see his beautiful daughters grow old.

Farewell Brett the Camel.  You were a wonderful friend.
Your memory will forever be in my heart.


P.S. If you have a child in trouble, visit here.
It could save their life.


Eve said...

I'm sorry that you lost your friend. What a touching tribute, your memory of him at 16.

Family of 4.... said...

So sorry you lost your friend Crystal. I too, lost my brother this past June. Lots of hard living for him too and he went too soon.

Very good tribute you gave. Thinking of your family and his.


Kimberly said...

Crystal, I'm so sorry about your friend. It's such a scary thought that the choices we make at in our teens (when we haven't a clue about life) have such potential to adversely affect the rest of our lives (or the lives of others) ... praying for you today :)

Jenni said...

So sorry for your loss sweet friend. Thinking of you and keeping you in my prayers.

Simply.Lovely.Things said...

So sorry for your loss. Often trying to understand things like this is nearly impossible. I't s a beautiful tribute and I thank you for sharing. Thought and prayers

Nanette said...

It is so hard to lose a peer, I am so sorry to read this.
Lovely post.
Much to think about.

Shauna maxwell said...

Crystal, what a beautiful tribute. I so enjoyed having you here this weekend to go through this with me. I'm so thankful for good stalwart friends like you who have carried me when I needed it.

Love always,

Deanna said...

As you know I lost my brother to suicide a few years ago. We were at your house when I got the horrible news. He grew up in a wonderful family and he too chose a path of drugs and drinking that led him to eventually end his own life. He too left a daughter and a family very sad to not have him a part of us any more. He was my best friend growing up and we did everything together. I miss him a lot. Life shouldn't end so early.

Darlene Bond said...

It's so sad that lives end too early.