It was 1979, and I was a starting guard for the Garfield G-Men 7th grade basketball team. We were playing an away game at Windham High School here in Ohio. We had an average team, and I was not that good of a basketball player, despite my dreams and efforts to be otherwise. There was this black haired player that I had to guard, and he had to guard me. He ran circles around me, and frustrated the hell out of me, but the seed of a friendship was planted that day. No, we didn’t become friends that day, far from it, and many a stupid fight or act of vandalism would transpire between our two schools over the next seven years; due to our schools being a ten minute drive apart. I didn’t know him during those years, but I did know a couple of people from Windham due to our family getting together with a family from Dad’s work, and a transfer from there that became one of my best friends, so I did know a couple of “cool” dudes from Windham, but the school rival and tribal like behavior kept me from being open to any new friends from Windham through my years of schooling.
It would be around 1988 when D-Dog and I would grow to become friends. We were both working in the same factory. We both loved sports, partying and video games. His family was from the hills of West Virginia, and mine was from the hills of Kentucky. Our friendship grew to the point that D-Dog was a Groomsman when I married the wife. His wife and my wife became the best of friends, and remain as such, today. I’m hurting as I write about the only Steelers fan, that I could watch a Browns game with. When the Buckeyes won it all, we both drank a shot for each time the Buckeyes scored. No matter what was going on, D-Dog always had a smile to greet me. It’s how I want to remember him.
It had been a couple of years since I had talked with him, and I am left with regret for that. I suppose there are many friends that touch grows less frequent over time as the birthdays pile up like bills in congress. Life is change and relationships changing seems to be just a part of life. Death sure brings reality to the surface. The word, Death, fails miserably to define the experiencing of relationship loss. The reality of it is confused by any words. Some say that we must face death alone. I don’t believe that to be true. Every person, that has passed, that I knew has taken a piece of me with them. I will be sure to tell a loved one facing death, that they will not be alone, that a piece of all of us is taken along with them. Death is nature’s mercy upon us, or God’s. If it weren’t for death, I would certainly never have experienced life, so in this way, I am grateful for life and death, but the pain of loss is not soothed by this perspective. Yielding to what is, I hurt from the emptiness.
I am grateful to have experienced ourness with D-Dog. My thoughts are with all the family and friends that lost a piece of themselves this past Tuesday.