February 11, 2015
Happy Birthday, Kevin. Thanks for being my friend when I was eight years old. Thanks for getting me into so much trouble at school that we had to be separated the following year, because we laughed too much in class together. It wasn’t that uncomfortable hiding in the back of your mom’s Volkswagen Bug after school so I could spend the night. Sleeping on your bean bag chair and waking up with foam beads in my hair actually helped build character. Then you started dating Gayle in high school and broke my heart. But we held on.
36 years ago, we sold everything we owned (dynamite eight-track player, Llyods stereo, all my 45s) to raise money for the Trailways bus ticket from Southeast MO to Chicago, IL. At 16 years old, we were allowed to run away. Remember the officer who picked us up fifty miles from home the year before? He informed us Missouri law stated you needed to be sixteen to leave home without your parents permission. My birthday was February 3 and yours February 11. So we left as soon as we could. We arrived in Chicago on February 14th, at the end of the 1979 blizzard. The view from the front seat as the bus did a loop between eight feet high snow drifts on Lake Shore Drive scared us to death. But we held on.
My desire to be free and yours to get attention was not compatible for us to remain together in Chicago for long. Your grandmother reached out two months later and promised you a private school in Arkansas. Besides, you just weren’t a city boy. So with another broken heart, I took you to Union Station and said goodbye. But with a few letters and infrequent phone calls, we still held on.
Not long afterwards, you ended up living with your aunt Niecy, out west, before living on your own. A few years later my boyfriend, Jamie and I left Chicago to stay with you and your new boyfriend, Glen, in Anaheim CA. On our first day in California, we spent all day at Disneyland and Knottsberry Farm. Finding a job was so tough we had to move back to Chicago. It took Jamie and me two more tries in the next two years to finally make the permanent move to California from Chicago. Most of the 80s we spent living in the same neighborhood in West Hollywood, CA. We lived through some wild and tough times. It was all worth it. Life would throw us a lot of curves balls through the years, pull us in different directions and sometimes bring a strained silence between us. But silently, hand in hand, we held on.
At 36 years old, you left for good. Already ill, you left for Pennsylvania with your partner. A few months later I got the call from our dear friend, Rayn. The awful disease had taken you from the earth. My dearest best friend, where have you gone? I know somewhere in the stars you are reaching out. And in my dreams, you visit to laugh with me again. Sometimes we talk in dreams about what is new and you look as healthy as you were in your twenties. I guess somehow we still hold on.
So today is my wish to you for a wonderful day, where ever you may be. May you be laughing with others, encouraging trouble and getting all the attention you deserve. You would have loved 52.