End of the Innocence

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Dave, Danny, Scott, Royal 1981

There is something about this picture that makes me want to sit down and reflect on my life… who I am, what I have become, where I am going and who I will be. I have this picture somewhere in my box of ‘things kept’ but recently came across it on another friend’s facebook page. It is a picture of four young men I went to high school with. It is the end of their Junior year and they are embracing each other with an open enthusiasm that I only see in people their age. The expressions on their faces are of pure happiness, pure innocence, pure love. A moment in time, a memory captured on film… I wish that the boys in this picture could live on forever… or at least that the expressions they convey in this photograph could.

I miss that time in my life when everything seemed possible. When the biggest problem I faced was a history test, or whether my friend was upset with me, whether I was going to be grounded for sneaking out at night. I am not trying to trivialize the “trauma” that is high school. I know that for some kids it is not the innocent age that I was fortunate enough to experience. I wish that innocence was a rite of passage for children… that all kids were allowed to experience innocence.

Danny took his life a year after this picture was taken… about two weeks before our graduation from high school. I do not know why he was driven to do this… I do not judge him for it, I just ache for his decision… 28 years later I still wish that there would have been another solution for him. What would his life have been like had he felt he had other options? Would the lives of the young men in the picture been different as they grew into adults? I know that my life changed on that day in 1982. I lost my childhood innocence but I learned valuable lessons in return. Life is uncertain so make the most of it; people are not always what they seem, treat them with kindness; and our actions have a far reaching affect, what I do today may continue to influence people years from now. Danny taught me these lessons, his decision continues to influence me and if I can live my life in a way that reflects the importance of the lessons he taught me, I feel in some small way that I have honored his life.

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