the kid up the street

my dad recently told my sisters and i that a kid we sort of grew up with had passed away. he grew up at the top of our street and went to our elementary and middle schools. my sisters and i never did get along with most of the kids up the street. down the street and on the other streets, sure; but i always had a bit of resentment for the kids up the street. maybe because some of them were my older sister’s age and didn’t get along with her. maybe because they never went to church with us.  i don’t know.

i’d heard things about this kid during high school. his younger, middle sister was a real sweetheart, and i assume his youngest sister was too. he had problems with depression.  and apparently that’s what ended things — according to his obituary, he “often found life difficult; he was courageous and determined in battling inner demons and overcoming severe obstacles. That he did not succeed in the end does not diminish the nobility of his struggle.”

i remember his sister once describing how when he played the piano it was as if he was being possessed by another being, not a demon, but an angel perhaps, of music. that the way he played was just on another level.

and i remember my mom telling me he’d been put in the hospital at one point for depression. i remember thinking i wished i could talk to him and maybe make him feel better somehow.

even after all these years of living i have a naive wish to make peoples’ lives better. i have a weird melancholy that i never really knew this kid, even though i have no reason to feel that way. it rings other bells, too, i guess; familiar ones i’ve gotten used to hearing ring. maybe it’s a good sign that hearing these bells still makes me want to burst into tears. or maybe it’s a sign of my own ongoing struggle with the demons of depression — the ones that are so hard to shake because all news seems to be sad news all the time.

i know it would be disingenuous of me to reach out to the family. i haven’t spoken with any of them in years. and i don’t share in their loss in any real tangible way.

but it still hits home. my heart still goes out to them.


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