I wasn’t sure about the topic for this November post. I’ve been wrestling with it a while, considering and discarding. I thought about writing about other blogs. I thought about doing a “thankful” post, like my friend Lady Strange does every November. I even thought I might skip this month. And then the news came that we’d lost another.
When Brian died in 2016, I wrote that he was the first, but he wouldn’t be the last.
I’m afraid that the dominos are going to fall ever faster.
Let me tell you about Kelly.
We were the best of friends, and sometimes, the worst of friends as we could be very, very bad for each other…and for everyone around us. There were more ‘best’ times than ‘worst’ ones, at least as I remember it, and even when I was most annoyed with him, he could still make me laugh. (Even if he did it by threatening to whine).
Our “handful” as he was often called, the wild child with the big hair and big heart, a smirk that always meant the best trouble, music in his soul and demons in his mind.
He struggled with depression and substance abuse; first and worst was alcohol, but he was seventeen years sober at the time of his death. The car accident that shattered his leg set him back on the path to drug abuse, an addiction to opioids that ultimately cost him his life.
There are too many stories; pickles and pranks, boy scouts and red roofs, pink pajamas and white tennis shoes, “going to church” on Sunday nights and Hoagy Carmichael on the stereo at 4:00 a.m. There was so much laughter, so much love, and now so many tears.
I could write about us as fierce, wanton children, living our dark fairy tale on city streets instead of primitive forests, fearlessly going where we shouldn’t, dressed in glitter and fishnet, dancing to our own music.
But that’s romanticizing. While there was some of that – okay, a lot of that, we were lucky – there were also hard, debilitating times. There were times he fell so deep in the pit that we weren’t sure we’d be able to pull him out, especially those of us that have our own struggles. And we all knew that no matter how much love we poured into that blackness – all of us that loved him in our different ways, but most specifically Firecracker – and no matter how fiercely he loved us back, still, we knew that someday there wouldn’t be enough to hold back the dark.
But then he would come back, mischievous grin shining bright as the sun, hiding that dark core, dragging us out again to sing and dance and laugh.
So maybe this turned into a thankful post after all. Because I’m thankful for that time, for those people, and that Kelly was part of my life.