Thursday, August 10, 2017

Death, the Final Frontier

      


  He came running over the green hills of Margaret Peirce’s lawn, calling my name. Barely three or four years old, he was free to play and couldn’t wait to go venturing with me.  I don’t& remember how we met, we just always knew each other. I turned in my yard and ran towards him, “Kirky!” I called.
  While he was barely three or four, I was close to eight or nine. Kirky was always tall for his age, happy, eager to learn and eager to crack a joke or see the humor in a commercial. His twin sisters, Merry and Terry, used to babysit my sisters and me when my parents went to play bridge on a Monday evening. Or went to parties – usually bridge parties.
  During the summer, when I wasn’t playing the boys on the block my age, I was hanging out with Kirk, riding bikes in his grandparent’s back yard, which was the house next door to us.  His dad was a pharmacist downtown Sunnyside. We used to go down there to visit and Mr. Montgomery would let us choose a Matchbox car to take home. I was a major tomboy. I loved my cars and trucks.
His grandparent often took us to the A & W. Kirky called it the Rootbeer Stand for lunch. It was one of his favorite places as a pre-schooler.   We had our fun, but there were other kids on our block that were closer to his age. And as I grew up, I became more of a loner. And one of his best friends was a boy who was the son of good friends with his parents who also played bridge with my parents. I remember the young boy, Michael Quigly as a towed boy who seemed to go everywhere with Kirk. He was a bright boy and was eager to smile.
   Puberty takes a toll on each one of us. Some in good ways, and some not so good.  I went off to college. And came back. I remember one of the last discussions I had with Kirk was at the time of his own puberty spurt. He discussed some of his concerns that young boys have and I assured him he would be okay and things would grow as needed to be. The very last time I saw him was at his dad’s funeral over twenty years ago. Maybe more.
  My Mom kept me up with what Kirk was doing in college and his many ventures into careers both in college and out. But it doesn’t replace actually keeping up the friendship. I regret that we lived so close together the last twenty years, but we never actually spoke or messaged each other. Indeed, friends grow apart.
 Kirk became a successful business man with Valley Ride in the Treasure Valley and I’m a struggling Indie author who feels more like a failure than a success. 
 August 9th, 2017, I attended Kirk’s funeral service. He was very loved and respected. I saw his sisters and was uncomfortable to approach them through the sea of people I did not know. I thought I was a fake friend because it’s been close to 30 or more years since we last talked. I regret not speaking to them now.
 I mean, what do I say? “I’m sorry your little brother passed away. It’s good to see you all after all these years. But the circumstances aren’t so keen.”
 And what do I say to his wife? “I was the child hood friend who used to borrow Kirk’s big wheel so Tony and I could ride big wheels around his drive way?”
 Wow, that would make a big splash, wouldn’t it? I think not.
I remember once as a teen, I was riding my bike alone when I saw Kirk playing basketball in his yard with some of other kids in the neighborhood. He called me over to play with them. I wasn’t very good at sports, but I gave it a try. We had fun.

 Death isn’t a friend to anyone. Yet is not something to fear. It is a transformation we undergo. We mourn the loss of physical life. Not being able to see our loved one again. But we take comfort in knowing our loved one’s spirit is still alive and waiting for us on the other side.