Essay Non-Fiction posted February 5, 2011

This work has reached the exceptional level
A eulogy to a young friend


by bhogg

Your life runs the gamut. Some days are great, some days are just life and some days are really bad. For me, today is one of the latter.

I lost a friend last Wednesday. His name was Adam. I suppose for some people, our relationship might seem strange. Adam was one of our neighbor's kids. He was sixteen years old. I say was, because Adam died. I'm sixty one. We were buddies though, without question.

When my wife and I moved to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, five and one half years ago, the first person who came by to welcome us in our new home was Adam. I don't mind telling you, this is a tough town for new people. My wife and I both are military brats. We've been married for over twenty years and have moved numerous times. Rocky Mount is a difficult destination. Just darn hard to meet people, and no one was knocking on our door.

No one, that is, but Adam. He came knocking the second day. He helped us move stuff and came to see us daily. Being totally honest, the biggest hook may have been our dog, Abbey. The two of them established a bond almost immediately. Abbey was a German Shepherd. I suppose that there is a mystique out there that the breed is ferocious. May be, but that certainly wasn't our experience. Adam loved Abbey, and it was mutual. A great pleasure for all of us was to walk Ms. Abbey. We even bought a leash that could fit over Adam's wrist.

Just to confirm how far down I was on the totem pole, Adam loved my wife Valerie, certainly more than me. Adam wasn't a shallow person, but I always felt that his love for Valerie was tempered by her prowess as a cookie maven. I can't tell you how many times I came home from work, lifting the cookie jar, and asking, "Where are the cookies."

Valerie would smile and answer, "I gave them to Adam."

A memory I'll never forget is Adam coming by one day after I had cut the grass. The greeting was so typical for Adam, "Hey Mr. Bill, what's up?"

I'm a nerd, always have been. In the process of cutting the grass, I found a rubber snake that someone had thrown in the yard. It was small, but incredibly detailed. I placed it in one of the Leyland Cypress trees at the corner of my lot.

I told Adam, "Oh, not much. Right now, I'm looking for a gotcha snake that I spotted while cutting grass."

"A gotcha snake, what's a gotcha snake?"

Raising my eyebrows, I responded, "Adam, I can't believe you've never heard of a gotcha snake. It's one of the most poisonous snakes known to man. That's one of the reasons it's so important to find it. It could bite Abbey, or one of the children next door. Would you like to help me?"

Definitely a pregnant pause before Adam responded, "Sure."

He and I went to the edge of the yard where the Cypress Trees were. I made exaggerated efforts to lift and carefully examine different branches. Of course, I knew where I left it. Suddenly, I turned to Adam and said, "Okay, Adam, be real careful. I think I see that darned old snake. With feigned care, I reached through the branches and grabbed the rubber snake.

I quickly pulled the snake out, exaggerating the wiggle of its rubber body. Wheeling toward Adam, I screamed, "I've got it, I've got it!" Stepping towards Adam, I pressed it to his chest. "It's gotcha, it's gotcha!"

Adam squealed. He then started to lift one foot and then the other, yelling, "Heh, heh, heh, heh!"

He finally figured out that the snake wasn't real. We laughed so hard we had to sit down on the ground. His comment said it all, "Mr. Bill, that's just not right." Afterward, we went in and Valerie fixed us Neiman Marcus cookies and a glass of milk. I noticed that when he left, he had saved one of the cookies he so dearly loved. He gave it to Abbey on the way out.

The death of a child is unnatural. I've just now returned to my desk from the funeral. It has helped me tremendously to write this and once again think about Adam and his wonderful smile. Abbey died three years ago. There is no doubt in my mind that she is now performing her version of a happy dance, enthusiastically welcoming Adam to his new home.

Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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