Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Best Enemy

They moved into our neighborhood when I was eight, a couple and four kids. Eddie was the oldest, at seven, and I immediately took a dislike to him. He was living in the house where my best friend Keith had lived until his parents decided to move to another town. Therefore, I could not like him. It didn't help that his dog would poop while running down the sidewalk.

For a couple of years, we got in the occasional wrestling match, or would simply bristle at each other, but it was never anything serious. We both tired of having each other as enemies, and started saying "hey" to each other when we passed. We started getting along, but we really didn't have much to do with each other.
One day, though, Eddie saw me in the front yard, and he wanted to talk. He talked about what he wanted to do when he grew up. I remember how excited he was, how focused, how hopeful. What I don't remember is what he'd chosen for his future career.
The next day, I yelled out a "hey" at Eddie as he rode down the street. He rode like a wild man, zigging and zagging across the street, like he was daring cars to get in his way.
An hour later, Eddie was in a coma. A car had run into him, and he smacked his head on the pavement as he went down. We didn't wear helmets back then; that would have been weird.
Later that day, Eddie died. He was ten years old, the age of my son today.
He popped into my mind this morning. I wondered what he would be doing today, where he would be living, how many kids he would have.
But for some reason, I can't remember what he'd planned to do for a living when he grew up. Maybe it doesn't matter. After all, he never grew up. He never got the chance.
Still, it bothers me that I can't remember Eddie's chosen career field.
I'm going to stop now, and watch my son sleep.


Kelly said...

Geez. What a sobering post.

quid said...

Every once in awhile, a sobering memory from when we were children creeps in and occupies our thoughts. We all reacted with bewilderment, stored the moments...bring them out once in awhile and realize how poignant tragedy can be to a small child.

A thoughtful post and sad.


Debby said...

You know, I was talking to a man about my age a couple weeks before Christmas. It was one of those things where you feel as if you are talking on two levels...the level that you are aware of, but that there is also a undercurrent that you can't quite define. We were discussing difficult times, the idea that as you get older, your experience with life's difficulties makes better able to navigate difficult times. (Does this make sense?) Anyway, like I said, there was this sense of touching on something else, but I didn't know the person and so was at a loss. He looked at me, this man, our own age, or close to it, and said, "When I was 10, there was a hunting accident. I killed my brother." And I got a glimpse of such pain that I felt as if I might drop to my knees with the weight of it. All of us, every one of us, carry burdens. I think that knowing this fact alone should make us behave more kindly to one another, don't you?

Bob said...

You never forget guys like Eddie. Maybe there's a reason you called him to mind.