I have experienced a lot of death in my years. Some absolutely shocking and some not so much. I can’t say that I was completely prepared to the most recently loss…Mike B. was someone I had known since I was about 11 years old. My first stepfather and his father worked together for awhile and they lived nearby. My parents had become friends with his, which led to us going to their home one evening. While our parents sat in the living room entertaining themselves, my sister had taken to playing with Mike’s little sister Beka, which was closer in age. I however got “stuck” with playing with the two boys; David and Mike. I of course didn’t mind…they were cute and definitely decided to show off while i was there. I remember them punching the wall LOL.
I wont lie, their home life was no better than ours and so when their mom left their dad it wasn’t long before my mom followed. It ended with us all living in their Aunt Sally’s house. I used to joke that I felt like Anne Frank in the attic, except that we were in the basement. Sally worked overnights and slept during the day so we had to be super quiet. This wasn’t an easy task for two now single moms and collectively five children. Those were some of the best and worst days of my life at that time. Mike wasn’t around as much…he was a bit older and had other interests.
Though Mike and I wasn’t as close in those years as his brother David and I, we were closer later on. I did in fact lose my virginity to him (and he said I was his first though I’m not sure I ever believed that). I can’t say that I was in love with him but I did have a love for him. We used to walk through Carondelet Park together and just talk about anything and everything. He was very sweet to me and his life was so rough. He was so talented and had so many goals and aspirations. He was an incredible artist and absolutely loved music. I remember in my twenties I spent many days over at his apartment listening to him freestyle. He was always good for a laugh even when the sun just wasn’t shining on our lives. We shared our secrets and it was like time had moved on without us. Even if we had gone years without speaking it was so easy to pick back up where we left off.
I remember one New Year’s Eve that we went to the Time Out Bar, It was so much fun and we got drunk and laughed and had an amazing time. He was so full of life and enthusiasm when it was needed the most. However, there was a darker side to Mike…he had demons that he ultimately would not escape. I’m not sure when he turned from weed to harder drugs exactly. I remember when I was about 13 that he took me to an abandoned apartment building where he had been staying and he talked about that he had experimented with other things. I was so stupid and naive when it came to drugs. The only thing I could do was to tell him not to do it like some after school special and doing my best to get through to him.
He came to stay with me for a few months a few years back. At the time he was homeless and had nowhere to go. It was so cold out and let him stay here with the family and I. Some days he was the same guy I grew up with and I could see a bit of innocence and youth behind in his eyes but most days he was pacing and going out of his mind. He would ramble on about things that I didn’t understand and tell me about how hard addiction was. He checked himself into the hospital a few times during his stay. He told me that he had been a heroin addict. Every day was a struggle for him but I watched him closely….tried to help him. Unfortunately I couldn’t afford to support him and my family at the same time and he made other living arrangements. We didn’t speak but a few times after that. He seemed to be doing better the last conversation we had but I knew that I could never be sure with him.
A few days ago Mike lost his battle to his addiction and died of a heroin overdose. I know some people have said that they have no sympathy for people that choose to do drugs…but I think that is unfair. We have all done things that were bad for us and yet we are so quick to judge. He was someone that I had known for over 20 years of my life. I’ve spent most of my time in shock and in denial. Not to mention I have another friend that I have known even longer who is also in a position of trying to beat his addiction to drugs. It isn’t easy to lose people that have been such a big part of your life. He will always be remembered. This Wednesday evening I will be attending his wake and I have not even really mentally processed it yet. I hope that he is happy now, free of those shackles that kept him weighed down in life at times. One day I will see him again…the way he used to be…full of energy and laughter.
The Family would appreciate any donations to help for funeral expenses as it was very unexpected and Mike had no life insurance.