I keep thinking of a kid from the Point of Pines who isn’t with us anymore. I’m not sure why this ghost is in my head, because we weren’t exactly friends.
The kid’s name was Zane. I believe the last name was Mead, though I’m not sure if there’s an E at the end. He was what you would picture as a classic stoner kid. I think he was on something every time I ran into him. He hung out with some of the tougher kids in the neighborhood. But he was never mean. Not to me, anyway.
In fact, I always detected a heart of gold inside him. Unfortunately, that heart of gold had a huge hole at its center and he tried to fill it with all kinds of substances. That’s what I remember, anyway.
I distinctly remember how, right after my brother died in 1984, he came by our house to pay his respects.
He lived in a very small house on Delano Ave., near my friend John Edwards. The neighborhood crazy lady lived at the other end of that street. Her name was Zelda. I always felt sorry for her, because she took a lot of ridicule and the fact of the matter was that the poor lady suffered from severe mental illness. Yesterday I wrote about how I was putting that term to rest and using “struggle” instead, but mental illness is the appropriate language in Zelda’s case.
Rumor has it she died of suicide, though I was never able to confirm that.
I used to see Zane walking the streets alone, looking lost. I guess he was. I remember how he’d stumble onto the school bus in the morning, cigarette hanging from his lips, and collapse into one of the very back seats.
I seem to remember him getting worse around 1988. That year, he went to the top of an apartment building off Shirley Avenue and dived off.
I keep thinking about what a waste that was, and it makes me sad.
I remember a lot of kids being torn up over his death. Understandable, especially given how his life ended. To this day, I’m convinced his death wasn’t one of simply giving up. I think he was just so sick at that point that he was no longer in control of his actions. I’m pretty certain that as he jumped from that roof, his real mind and soul wasn’t in there.
My friend Dan took the death hard. He and Zane used to be neighbors, and they were close.
What really sucks is that less than a decade later, Dan would have to experience another close friend taking his life. I never appreciated until recently what a nightmare that must have been for him. That latter suicide hit me like a knife, and I’ve written about it often in this blog. But Dan had to feel what I felt TWICE in his life. That he bounced back from that is a real testament to his inner strength.
Dan and I have been lucky. We’ve led different lives since Sean Marley’s death and fell out of touch until recently, thanks to Facebook. But we’ve led productive, rich lives full of music and children.
I like to think those experiences of loss helped us grow in ways that made us better people today.
I wish I had made the effort to know Zane back then. I doubt I would have been able to help him, especially with that shallow, 18-year-old brain I had at the time. But he seems like someone who would have been a good friend.
The heart was there.
His life ended early, but his days on this Earth were not a waste. I remember that his tight circle of friends really cared for him.
He did something to make them feel that way.
I hope that by writing about him here, I’m honoring his memory.