If you’ve read my book, Closing the Wound, then you know several things right off the bat. First, this story would not have happened if not for a friend calling me early one Saturday morning and asking this question: What happened that night? You also know I went and had breakfast with this friend and we talked for a long time while sitting at a Denny’s. You also know Closing the Wound is a true story, at least as true as my memory recalled it.
It had been a while since I had seen that friend. His name is Chad and we were (and still are, though we don’t see each other often enough) good friends.I ran into Chad at my daughter’s graduation. He was there for another student, but he got to see my girl walk across that stage, too. Afterwards, we talked, as friends tend to do. We said, ‘Hey, we need to keep in touch,’ as friends tend to do, though often they don’t.
Before we went our separate ways, I told him about Closing the Wound and his part in the story. A couple of days later, he purchased the digital book. When he finished reading the story, he didn’t leave me a review. Instead, he sent me an email. After reading it, I asked him if I could share it with the world. With his permission, I give you Chad’s letter to me.
It is just passed midnight and I read “Closing The Wound”. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it from your perspective. Like you, I have somewhat boxed those memories away to be opened only one time a year, Halloween. The book itself is very well written, it’s what’s between the front and back (that) really mattered to me. It did dredge up a lot of memories. I am still a bit hazy on our conversation that day, I do recall us talking about that night just can’t quite piece it all together. It has been 24 years ago and after reading the book, a lot of those forgotten details and memories have crept back into my mind, which is a good thing. I never want to forget those days no matter how horrific they were at times. Each piece is somewhat of a building block of who we have become. Back to the book, you have a gift Jeff, you are a master story teller and writer. I do not use those terms lightly either. When I was writing, I had a similar style, but I can’t focus long enough to eat a sandwich let alone write a book! LOL! You have always had that gift, you can say you’re a natural at it.
I know we haven’t kept in touch over the years and meeting at the graduation was very refreshing to say the least. I like how you write in the book to not live in the past. There are somethings that I have been apart of where I too, ask could I have done something differently to alter the outcome. I suppose we can all agonize over those questions, but questions don’t change events concerning the past. I have struggled with Chris’ death, well at least once a year, yes it still haunts me. I know he was tormented and I understood his struggles to a degree. I truly believe he is in Heaven and no longer has those feelings of loneliness, depression and the desire to belong. I still see his face when he was with all of us. He admired you so much because you were such a good friend to him. Like me, you helped alter some of his life Jeff. His life ended at a very young age, but perhaps that’s how it was meant to be. We can ask questions of “what ifs”, but I remember the best days with him was when we were all together hanging out. Those are the days that I remember the most. Yes, I remember that picture of us at the rest area off of I-77 in between the snack machine bars. I had so much fun back in those days!
I leave you with this my friend. After reading the book, I couldn’t help but to go back 25 years ago and think how you have helped so many people. I know you are a little rough around the edges but that’s ok, sometimes it takes course sandpaper to get the splinters off of some of us knuckleheads! But seriously, as time rapidly marches forward and our own families grow before us, take stock in your life and the people you have influenced. I know for me, my family may not be here if it weren’t for you. God uses us in different ways and He used you and a number of others from that church to save me from myself. I suppose some emotions have been awaken from 25 years ago, but I just remember how happy Chris was with us, in a way we were his family besides his aunt and sister. This Halloween let’s start a tradition at go and visit him and remind ourselves of the good days.
Thank you for all you have done for me Jeff! You are and will always be one of my best friends.
Keep in touch buddy!
PS: Do you remember his sister’s name or know of her whereabouts?
After reading this, I sat back for a while, just staring at the words, not really thinking in clear thoughts, but in pictures. Pictures, like the first time I met Chris at a church work day; like the time I saw him at the South Carolina State Fair just weeks before his death; like the hundreds of teens in a standing room memorial service; like finding his grave for the first time after not visiting for so long; at learning my sister’s husband new Chris and has his own theories of what happened that night. All of them were snapshots into the memories that I—that we—dredged up.
Chad said some nice things to me, but the one that keeps coming back is this: He admired you so much because you were such a good friend to him. Like me, you helped alter some of his life …
I wish I would have done more, been a better friend (despite what Chad said, I always think I could have done more), knocked the block off the punk who influenced him in the direction that ultimately cost him his life.
Here’s my questions to all of you: Do you know someone who might need someone to talk to? Do you know someone who might be heading down a path of destruction? Is there someone you care about who is doing something you think maybe he or she shouldn’t, but you are afraid to mention it because you think it will hurt their feelings?
Here’s one more question: Does saving a life mean more than hurting someone’s feelings to do so?
The story of my friend, Chris, in Closing the Wound, is just the tip of the iceberg. The story goes so much deeper and cuts down to the bone when I think about his life and death. I honestly don’t know if there is more I could have done, and that brings me guilt from time to time. Even so, I did some good in his life, and clearly, in Chad’s life.
Sometimes our guilt overrides everything else. It torments us to the point of forgetting all about the good in our life, the good we have done. Chad is one of those good things. He reminded me of that. Now, I remind you: think about someone you have helped in some way. How is their life better because of you? Yes, take credit for that in your heart. Say, I did something great for someone and I helped someone and that person is in a better place because of me. Don’t let guilt ruin you.
Until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.
If you would like to pick up a copy of Closing the Wound, you can find the digital version on Amazon, or you can get the print version directly from me (signed of course) by contacting me at email@example.com.