Paul

(2 weeks ago). I went to Lower Bucks County today for my Pre-op Covid 19 test. The people are always so nice when I’m getting a medical procedure. It’s the procedure that’s the problem. Up my nose went a pipe cleaner type thing. It felt like it was entering my brain! Just as I couldn’t stand it anymore, she pulled it out.

Now I quarantine and wait.

Earlier, as I was turning into the parking lot where the drive through testing was taking place, my eye caught the entrance to a cemetery. I kind of froze, like my subconscious had recognized it, but my conscience mind had to catch up.

It was Paul’s cemetery. I was sure of it.

Paul, Paul Loughran, was my very best friend ever. We were roommates and played football together at Temple. He was really good. Really fast. He went to Roxboro HS, when it was predominantly black. The other kids on the track team called him “White Lightening.”

We sang together and played guitars together. We did everything together. I loved Paul.

On his 30th birthday, Paul took a bottle of pills and a bottle of whiskey into the woods near his house, and took his own life.

I was devastated. As devastated as a 30 year old could get, I guess. I didn’t feel much for most of my life. I drank away feelings. I found out he was gone in a bar on Rising Sun Avenue, in Philadelphia. I think I stayed there, in Joseph’s Cafe, for some time that day.

Paul was a depressive. He just couldn’t shake it. When I spoke to his sister afterward she said that the family just felt like he wasn’t equipped to live on this planet.

I made a big mess of things some time later. I was newly sober, like I said, I found and contacted Paul’s little sister. I knew her from back then, too. Yolande and I had breakfast with her and her brother, Jack. I can’t remember her name at the moment.

When I saw her, I became obsessed in some way. Like if she would be my friend, it would be like having Paul back in my life. They looked so much the same.

I tormented her. All I did was put her through that awful time again. Making her remember things she had put to rest. I am very ashamed, still, of the way I acted. Being newly sober, and that is no excuse, I really was unable to process my feelings or respect and acknowledge the feelings of others, yet. I was such a bother and I couldn’t stop myself. It was terrible.

It has been harder dealing with how I acted with his sister than dealing with his death. It is one of the things in my past I will not forget. I use it to help me remember, that I never want to act like that with anyone again.

She changed her email and phone numbers to get me to leave her alone.

I gave up years ago, trying to apologize for my behavior. This was 23 years ago, when this all happened. Maybe it’s time to apologize again. I’ll think about that. Would it be for me or for her? If it is just to make me feel better and at the same time brings bad feeling up for her, then I will let it be. I’m going to let it be.

I went to the Cemetery office. Paul was indeed in this place. The woman gave me a map and directed me to the area where I would find Paul.

I searched and searched. He was not in the plot she had marked on the map. I was about to just leave, but then thought to expand the area in which I was looking. Four more rows over, I found the grave stone.

It was 1979 when he died.

I noticed that there were a lot of stones with Hebrew writing on them. I looked closer at Paul’s headstone. There was just a letter or two at the top in Hebrew. I think maybe Paul’s mom must have been Jewish.

I learned some time ago, in Cape Town, the Jewish tradition of leaving a small pebble in remembrance. I found one and placed it on Paul’s granite headstone. I said a little prayer, told Paul I missed him, and left.

I will have to let the bad feelings concerning my actions wash over me for a while, before I will let them go again. It’s the right thing to do. Reliving the way I felt back then, will help me to try and never act that way again.

Paul helps keep me sober. It’s the best way I can think of to honor his life.

Paul and I played together in the North South Shrine All Star Game, in Miami’s Orange Bowl, in 1972. It was great fun.

By 1979, he was gone.

So. I find out if I’m Covid positive in the next two days. I really hope not. Then my new hip.

Yikes. I’m getting a new hip.

All-In

10 thoughts on “Paul

  1. I remember than N/S Shrine game, and my memory is your won the MVP of that game time, I was in Michigan having operations on my hand that I had put through a table saw. We had a nice conversation about the game and our lives. I listened to that game from a hospital days just weeks after competing in the Olympic Trials in Chicago that year. Our resilience and our stories shared are a legacy of their own.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was also coming out of a hand operation and on drugs so I remember it as you the hero. I love how you set the record straight, but it won’t impact my memory of those moments so long ago. So far away from home, in a hospital and in a state away from family, it was a life buoy for me to hear a familiar name on the radio.

        Liked by 1 person

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