I received some heartbreaking news this week. A young man who was a childhood friend with my son Ben has died of a heroin overdose. For purposes of this blog, I will call the young man Tommy.

Tommy was five years old when we met. He was a quiet kid—one you might not notice in a room full of noisy kindergarteners. Just before the start of the school year, Tommy’s dad moved in with his father who lived next door to us. I clearly remember wishing that Tommy’s dad would pay more attention to Tommy and his brother and less attention to the steady stream of women that seemed to form a line on the front stoop. Slamming doors and raised voices were a regular part of the activity over the fence, and it wasn’t long before Tommy’s dad disappeared in his beat-up old Chevy leaving the kids at the house with their grandfather.

When I moved several years later, Tommy became a regular visitor at our new place. He seemed sweet and quiet so, I was surprised when he was implicated in some trouble in the neighborhood. Ben insisted Tommy was not responsible. Ben was with him when the alleged incident took place, and he attested to Tommy’s innocence, a fact later confirmed by an investigation. The boys maintained their friendship for two more years with no further trouble, but at some point, Tommy stopped coming around.

The Rest of the Story

This week, I learned the sad truth. Ben summed it up by saying that Tommy was a kind soul who was always surrounded by the wrong people.  He admits that at fourteen years old he […]