I meant to get to this blog on the 1st but one thing let to another so it is a couple of days late.
It used to be that the 1st of July was just another day. Well. I'll take that back. It was kind of a special day because it is the day that they start selling fireworks around our area. It meant that July 4th was right around the corner. The sounds of firecrackers, bottle rockets, roman candles and other pyrotechnics reverberate through the still night air into the wee hours of the morning. The ritual lighting of BBQ grills, the smells of charcoal, grilled food and gunpowder wafting though the air; the sounds of children playing in the pools, the gathering of friends and family for the holiday.
However, July 1st, 2008 will be a date that sticks with me forever. It is one of those days that when it happens, you know that you will always remember where you were.
It had started as an ordinary day. My son, my best friend Alvin and myself had some running that we needed to take care of that day. We did our running at Walmart, etc. then decided to drop by World Buffet in Wichita and take advantage of their all you can eat happy hour lunch buffet. Between the 3 of us we could put a serious hurt on a Chinese buffet. We were all sitting around the table laughing and eating when I received the call from my wife, Julie. What she said in that 30 second phone call changed our life, and many others, forever. I told Alvin that we needed to get home as soon as possible. Trying to keep my emotions in check, I paid our bill and we left.
When we got home, I took my son Chance back into my bedroom and told him that his best friend, Cameron, had committed suicide early that morning. It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do. I could tell at first that the words didn't register. It sounded to insane too even believe. I noticed the change in him as the words sank in and when they went from disbelief to reality. It hurt my heart to see my son in so much pain.
His often asked question of why? was answered with the only thing that I could say; I don't know. I held my son closer than I had since he was a baby and together we cried on each others shoulders. Him, for the loss of his best friend. I, for the loss of a young man that I considered a son myself. I cried for the loss and pain that I knew his family had to be going through.
Cameron was a one of a kind boy. I know that this description is used all the time but it's true. He always had a smile, loved to joke around and was loved by everyone. He was outgoing, funny and smart. He loved to make people laugh and he was always up for a dare. He was one of the first kids that Chance met when we moved here and they became fast friends. Cameron was the big brother that he never had. Cameron never had to knock when he came over. He knew where all of the junk food was stashed and he knew that the kitchen was open to him. He would often come over, walk in, grab to pop, say hi on the way to Chances room and hang out with Chance for hours on end.
When Julie told me the news, I have to admit, we were scared for Chance. He was going through some very stressful times himself and we were afraid that this was going to be too much for him to handle. We were afraid that Cameron's death would cause a depression for Chance that would make him want to suicide as well. It is not uncommon or unheard of. I wanted to stay up 24/7 and just hold him. Watch over him and protect him. We knew that the only thing that we could really do was try to talk to him about it and let him know that we were there for him. He had to grieve in his own way.
The funeral was a couple of days later. On our way to the funeral we noticed a group of girls, his classmates, walking together, holding hands and candles, making their way to the church. As I said, Cameron was liked and loved by everyone and the turnout at the church showed. It was standing room only. Different colored markers placed on Cameron's casket gave everyone the opportunity to write their final farewell to this incredible young man. From the church, we went out to the cemetery and said goodbye to our friend.
This last Friday, July 1st, marked the 3rd anniversary of Cameron's death. That night we took the girls and gathered with his family, friends and classmates at the cemetery. We shot roman candles and lit sparklers, said a prayer, laughed, cried and told stories of Cameron. After a while we left and let his classmates and friends gather around his grave to celebrate the 4th of July with their lost friend.
There is a hole in my heart where Cameron used to reside and I will forever hold him in my memory.
Rest in Peace Cameron. We love you and miss you very much.