Too Soon Gone

March 27, 2011 at 1:09 pm (Goth, Memoir) (, , , , )

Gordie: “Although I haven’t seen him in more than ten years I know I’ll miss him forever. I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anybody?”

This has been a week for weeping. I heard, via the radio, that a childhood friend died a week ago today. It is been over thirty years since we graduated together and almost forty since we could have called each other friends. One grows up, the world turns and everything collapses into a speck of dust no bigger than a pinpoint or a heartbeat.

Death is different in a small town. You are closer to it. When you see the same small group of people everyday, it is easier to notice when someone is gone.

He was my age – a little younger; I was a spring baby, he was a winter. We both grew up in the same small town and ended up here in my city. This is not surprising – this is the city that most of us ended up in.

I grew up here, in town. See that small lot to the right of the pine tree, this is where our house was; this is where me, my two older sisters and younger brother grew up. That pine tree use to be smaller than the Fire Hall.

I was mostly a tomboy then. The crowd we, my younger brother and I, ran with was a rough-and-tumble crowd. Why be inside? Most of us didn’t have television sets, the internet and computer games hadn’t been thought of yet. So we ran, fought, climbed trees, explored the boundaries of our small town and ventured out into the countryside. Some of us lived in town, a few of the others were less than a mile out (this was when we still thought in miles not kilometres).

There was no one available to drive us around and so we walked. We walked and ran and laughed and I have no idea what we spent our days doing. I only know that it was fun and there was laughter and we all belonged together.

We use to have the run of the town/countryside. Poverty glued us together. There was no money for extras and sometimes no money for necessities; it was a land of hand-me-downs, gardens, canning and toil. The crowd I ran with consisted of children of substance framers not successful farmers. Even when the farming boom hit in the 70s these families were left out of it as my single parent mother was.

We ran together until we all moved from the elementary school to the high school; that would have been grade five or thereabouts. We were big enough now for after school jobs but not big enough yet to have access to cars (even though the farm boys knew how to drive before they legally were allowed to). We were changing. We were growing up.

I wouldn’t go back. I wouldn’t go back to being twelve despite the fact that until I turned thirteen growing up in that small town was perfection.

The funeral was Friday. I did not go. I did not send a card. What could I say about a man that I have not known since he was a boy? How could I convey the perfection that we had then and let slip away?

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