Sunday, September 4, 2016

But For Grace...

My childhood friend's son was murdered last week. He was 22 years old.

It was in my friend's bedroom with a double canopy bed, white furniture and fluffy pink bedding that I attended my first seance, with the first woman who ran a hotel empire. It was with my friend that I first rode a horse, and the first time I sat in the backseat of a car while attacked by her ice cream cone.

It was the first time I got my cast wet, because she pulled me into the deep end. Basically, each playdate ended up in an adventure with an almost guaranteed outcome of trouble: coming home late, or having flooded the sunken tub in her parent's bathroom.

When we entered junior high, we stayed close but she gravitated towards different friends. She started to smoke, she started missing school. The pattern continued and I'm not even sure she graduated.

She came and saw me one Thanksgiving when I was already married and the mother of two children. Our worlds couldn't have been further apart, but I loved her the moment her statuesque, dancing body entered the room. She was between shows, a dancer on the strip. Topless? Perhaps.

Time never stopped but the commonalities in our life did. She had a bout with drugs. A marriage, a divorce, two sons, another marriage, more drugs, an ex-husband who died of a drug overdose. A body that gave out on her--four years in a wheelchair. When Mom attended the funeral for her son today, she told me I wouldn't have recognized my friend.

But what I do recognize is the pain. One mother to the next can only imagine the deep grief that accompanies the loss of a child. It doesn't matter how we lived, how we raised our children, the pain is shared and feared. It's what we would never wish upon anyone and when we hear of a child's death, we go white, stagger, and know, but for the grace of God, there go I.