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Monday, January 30, 2012

End of Decade (EOD) Transitions: Friendships

     “It just can’t be true, Butchy. When did you find out?” I was beside myself with grief. Butchy and I had been friends like forever and I just assumed we would be friends until we were so old we could not throw a baseball any longer. But, what did I know; I was only a kid.
     “My mom just told me. She said Dad gave her the news last night.” Butchy was as sad as I was; both of us were so totally stunned. Apparently his father had a new job and that meant a relocation for the family.
     “What will you do? Do you know when it happens?” What I really meant was what will I do. I didn’t remember a time when Butchy was not in my life
     “I don’t know what I’ll do. I don’t think there are any kids there at all. Who will play catch with me? I am pretty sure there are no frog ponds in that place either.” It seemed to me that Butchy was doing exactly what I was doing—reviewing all the experiences we had shared together. Both of us would be losing something we did not think could be replaced, a friend with whom we could learn new things and work on perfecting others. My sister tried, of course, but she just could not throw a football as far or as hard as Butchy. By the time she would be old enough to do it the way he did, she would be too old to want to. I needed Butchy!
     “How long do we have?” I asked Butchy with tears brimming inside my lower lids. I looked up from my examination of the dirt under the swing to see that Butchy’s tears had already begun to trickle down his cheeks. I wanted to push off and let myself soar high above this new trouble; but, all I could do was twist the swing one way and then the other. I had no strength with which to soar this sad day.
     “Next Saturday or Sunday, at the latest,” Butchy said. He was choking so I didn’t want to ask him anything else. I knew he would not want me to see him cry for real.
     “Want to go to the field and shoot a few arrows?” That was yet another thing Butchy and I had learned together. Oh, neither of us could afford a real bow or arrows but, watching Robin Hood one day we figured out that the weeping willow branches would do for a bow. We found one the right length for each of us and strung a cord taut between the two ends, bending it just right. Then we found somewhat straight pieces of small branches from another tree that had less flexible wood for our arrows. One end was sharpened and the other just left as it was. We had tried to cut slits and shove little pieces of paper in the slots to be the feathers of the arrow but it didn’t work.
     “Nope. I don’t really feel like doing nothing right now. I just wanted to come tell you. I gotta go.” I watched Butchy leave the swing and head towards home, head hanging like a vulture looking for something dead to eat. I don’t think we could have felt worse if he had been given a death sentence.
     Sure enough, Saturday the moving van backed up to Butchy’s house and everything they had was loaded up. I cried hard when Butchy and his family drove away that day. The neighborhood would not be the same without him.
     I had heard the saying “When God closes a door, he opens a window” but I had no idea God knew I needed an open window and I needed it right now! I was certainly surprised when that window began to open in my young life!

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