I first met him my junior year in high school. He was a tall and lanky senior. He had been in a bad car accident, and had a cast on his leg, crutches, pins coming out of the cast, etc. We were in the same political science class together with Mr. Dwyer. I can't remember what the particular "lesson" was that day in class - Mr. Dwyer wasn't big on "lessons" - but I do know that the whole class was seated in a large circle, and we were to write anonymous notes about our classmates, and Mr. Dwyer would read them aloud. Torture, to be sure.
I think I still have the note that Kevin wrote about me. Somewhere in the debris of my basement. Everyone in the class knew that he wrote it. I think that his blush gave him away when the note was read aloud.
The note was an invitation to a date. I accepted. He couldn't drive - the leg that was broken was his gas pedal foot. We doubled with his twin brother. I don't remember how many dates we were on. It doesn't really matter. I liked him. I remember snippets of time we spent together. At DeeDee's house for a party; he freaked out when he heard sirens. I remember thinking that he may be on something as we made out. The song "Behind Blue Eyes"; him telling me that that song explained him. At the rest area; me jumping out of the car to pick some wildflowers to put in my hair. Him getting upset because I was barefoot and could have cut myself. On a date, stopping to park, but it was on railroad tracks. Us getting off the tracks with just seconds to spare. before the train came blasting through. Me climbing into the back seat of his brother's car (after him - he still had the cast), and my hand accidently brushing his cock. Him and his brother laughing their asses off at my embarrassment.
I went to his graduation that June; I was hoping to meet up with him at an "after party". I couldn't find him, and I didn't see him again. Ever.
Four years ago he calls me. Twenty four years from when I had seen him last. We talk on the phone for almost two hours (me with my office door closed, praying I won't get fired). We talk about life, our kids, our spouses, our jobs, our families, our lives. A lot to cover. Again - just snippets of the conversation that I remember. How much he loves to hang out on weekends with his brother. How he loves his hobby - motorcycles. How much he loves his 9 year old son, and his wife who almost wouldn't marry him, and that he had to woo for seven years. His brother rings in on his other line. I hear them talking and laughing. He comes back to the phone; he tells me that his brother says "hi". He tells me that he always felt bad about the way we "ended". We promise to keep in touch.
Five months later, I am in my office. Reading the newspaper. I turn to the local section; the obits. My heart drops. I think it is his name. Thank God. It isn't. It is a name nearly identical to his.
Oh my God. The NEXT obit over IS his name. "Died unexpectedly". Complete shock. There is no one I can call. No one I can ask. I close my office door and cry.
How do you mourn the death of someone you loved twenty-four years ago? When you both have had twenty-four years of life that has been completely separate? When you both have married others, and had children?
You do it quietly and silently. But, you do mourn. And you do grieve. And it never really ever leaves you. Even when it has been four years since he passed.
Here's to you, Kevin. I loved you. I couldn't tell you that then, so many years ago. I was a shy, young 17 year old. But I can tell you that now. And every fucking time I hear "Behind Blue Eyes" I think of you.