I remember him well as a little boy.
His soft blonde hair and cherubic face spoke of angelic sweetness.
And, in his own little boy way he was.
But, he was born with untold energy, to run and to go places, to definitely not sit still.
He was quick as lightning, his soft little body running to where he shouldn’t go, his tiny hands reaching for what he shouldn’t reach for.
I kept him for a very short time and still I remember his arms wrapped around me frantically in a little boy hug, like he wanted to be held for a very, very long time, except he couldn’t stay there. He couldn’t stay still. He had so much to explore, so much to discover.
I kept him for a week or so and during that time, my memory is blurred with running after him, scooping him up from danger and smiling as I watched him eat ice cream, relishing the taste with a look of pure pleasure on his tiny face.
I lost track of the little boy after that.
It was a dark time for the family.
The mom, bless her heart, was simply not mentally or physically able to care for him or his sister and in the end it was decided the children should be adopted out.
And, so it happened.
One day they were gone.
One day they were both swallowed up into a system that people talk about in hushed whispers around the kitchen table, and the meaning of their words seem to remain shrouded in the dark shadows of the unknown.
I was on the peripheral edge of that dark time, but one thing I know for sure.
His grandma packed up the photograph albums she had lovingly made for those children. And she stored them away.
And she cried.
A few years ago I ran into him again.
He had turned into an incredibly handsome man, whom I thought to myself, could turn some young girl’s heart to mush.
His blue eyes were kind and his smile was gentle like rain on a summer morning.
I looked at him and I smiled and I wondered if he remember how he had wrapped his little boy arms around so many years ago, but I didn’t asked him.
After all we were strangers now.
I have since learned this young man grew up in Alberta. I learned he played hockey and football and even refereed minor hockey.
I was told he loved the outdoors and was an avid fisherman.
And so I think to myself he has had a good life, brought up by parents who loved and nurtured him in a healthy way.
And I feel pleased and happy.
But, as much as I still want very much to believe in fairy tale endings, the story of this young man does not end well.
Today his family will bury him.
He had just turned 23 years old. He died of a heroin overdose.
There is no answer for why.
There is only sadness of a life lost.
According to the web, every drug possible is available if people just know where to look.
In Alberta’s capital city, where this young man died, there is a huge problem with youth taking drugs. And I think, as i read this, there is a huge problem everywhere.
I know very little about the drug world. I have had kitchen table discussions about drugs, the horrors of it, the devastation it can cause and how it can wreck people’s lives.
And then I have gone to bed, safe in my own little world.
And even now as I learn of this young man’s death, only one thing I know for sure.
His grandma cried.