From age 7 to 12, five people I knew died. The first (1991) from AIDS, a family friend. I barely remember him, but I do remember staying up late at night at his house so we could be with him when he died. The second (1993) was my baby sitter Melanie, who was murdered by a family member (stabbed and shot). The third (1994) was my music teacher and choir instructor, of whom we all had a kind of fearful respect. He was the first grown man I heard sing often. He was shot by some teenager who held up a 7-11. The fourth (summer 1994) was my classmate, Kevin, who drowned in his family’s jacuzzi in front of another of my classmates. The fifth (1996) was my best friend’s mother, who died of breast cancer. Our whole class attended the funeral. I can hear her sobbing in the front row with her older sister. Recently, maybe three years ago, a family friend, Dick, died of an aggressive bone disorder (cancer maybe?). His health deteriorated so quickly, we did not get to say goodbye before he was gone.
I wonder sometimes why the deaths of those people I knew still bother me after all these years. Naturally, I loved them and cared about them. I realized today that they were all stolen from me in some way, taken before their time. I suppose Dick wasn’t young, but… still. Even so, if he were twenty years older and had died of old age, would I still be so affected? I’d like to think so. As for the deaths surrounding my childhood, no one ever talked to me about them. I was completely alone, and I’m a little surprised I’ve turned out as well as I have as a result. But I still cry thinking of them, perhaps because they were stolen, particularly Melanie and my music teacher; they were literally stolen from me by someone else: murdered.
People talk about healing after the death of a loved one, and I suppose I don’t burst into tears at the drop of a hat like I used to. I think I will never not cry, though. Which I’m becoming ok with.