I got the most unwelcome news this week.
My friend Chad died.
And, for all purposes, he was my first boyfriend.
Nevermind Husband (sorry dear).
Nevermind my high school sweetheart (if I talked to you I would say sorry too).
And definitely nevermind that when I finally caught up to him in 2000 thanks to this thing called GOOGLE I found out that he was gay.
I believe we met in middle school, since we went to different elementary schools. His last name started with K, my (maiden) was L, and so we were always near each other. We were misfits – me with many failed attempts at big hair (which became a hot poodle mess), coke bottle glasses and buck teeth; him with his small frame and skinny legs. As time went on, he was always the go-to guy (because, really, no one wanted me back then. Trust me.)
He was wicked smart. Maybe that was why we always got along because we were both big geeks/nerds and overachievers.
We had our nicknames for each other. He always teased me about one thing or another, but in a good way (not in a bullying way that I have experienced as well). He was the first guy I would stay on the phone with for hours talking about the trivial stuff (that is, until Mom or my sister would yell for me to get off the phone).
In the summers we would always hang out. He lived at one time by the library (which was my favorite hangout, yes, I do realize I’m a nerd). At the time, my dad did a lot of traveling on work sites and my mom worked 3-11 shift at the nursing home…I was a latchkey kid for many years. I was pretty independent (also, CPS wouldn’t had given a second thought to it).
We talked a lot – about our dreams of getting out of the crappy town, to have money, etc. And TV, watched a lot of that.
And when I moved away in 1989, we kept in touch via that old school letter format. And the phone. Not the cell phone – I was lucky if I got the cordless to sneak into my room and speak somewhat freely with the door closed.
When I would end up back there, we would try and meet up. When I was 16, we had our first kiss. However, we never were officially boyfriend/girlfriend.
I imagine nowadays we may have talked to each other more, or Skyped, or Tweeted…but back in the 80’s-90’s, there wasn’t much of that going on. My parents, however, did make mention of a few pricey long distance calls.
One of my best memories of him was being his “date” at the county fair in which you paid money to stay up all night and ride the rides. To this day, I always love amusement parks at night – when it’s illuminated and and full of excitement.
We graduated, went on to different colleges, and that was that for about 7 or so years…then I found him online. I believe it was Classmates.com. I sent one of those “just in case you can’t remember me” e-mails and he e-mailed right back. We were on opposite coasts; but both living the single life…and both looking for guys.
Well, so much for trying to “reconnect” with him. LOL
I never found out from him when he decided to come out. My feeling was that it was not widely accepted by his family. I never asked; he never told me. We joked about my tendency to fall in love with gay guys, however. My Gaydar was a bit off, he joked. I was Grace before Grace was cool.
In the realm of advancing technology, I am so glad to have been able to keep in distant touch with him. We exchanged e-mails time to time…then this thing called Facebook came around. Then we were able to see our lives take totally different turns. By now I was happily married, Mayor B was a baby, and Mayita was not even in the picture yet. He was living THE single life in Seattle, being a financial whiz, having lots of friends, even a love or two. But he still had cats – and he was devoted to them.
And it was fitting that I found out that he died through the wonders of technology. Another childhood friend who I reconnected through FB sent me a message that she had found out. We don’t know how, but it was a sudden illness and he died alone. It breaks my heart that in his final moments there was no one that he reached out to.
As I scrolled through his pictures he uploaded what I guess was his final picture. The caption said “One Very Sick Chad and Two Cats that Enjoy Extra Body Warmth”. I assumed when he said “sick” I thought he meant the flu.
I found his obituary. There will be no visitation or services. I don’t even know what his wishes were. I know that the obit came from our hometown funeral home.
I e-mailed one of his Seattle friends to see if they knew anything. I need something, anything, to comfort me. Because 36 is way too bleeping young to die.
He made an inside joke recently on Facebook about how his place on my Friends list was safe (I was doing a periodical dump of people I don’t talk to). Well, that defnitely ain’t happening now.
I’ll miss you Chad.