1970 something

Going to my elementary school, there were about thirty kids in my class.  Hell, my graduating high school class there were 562 of us.  Recess was always fun.  Our playground was pretty nice because I lived in an affluent suburb.  It had what most nice school playgrounds in suburbia do.  Plenty of swing sets, slides, see-saws. Box-ball and hop-scotch were even painted right on the hot top itself.

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I became friends with Jimmy in second grade.  We were in Mrs. Drapeau’s class.  There was a few unforgettable things that happened that year.  Like the time that Henry Altenwen puked and peed his pants at the same time in the front of the class.  The time that Eric Frobert puked all over his reading book.  And the time that Mrs. Drapeau yelled at me in front of everyone for helping a classmate pronounce a word when they were struggling, during oral reading.  Asked me if I thought I should teach the class.  I remember feeling my face felt hot and I felt ashamed. I was only trying to help him, my heart was kind.  It’s amazing the influence that teachers can have in shaping children.

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Jimmy and I stood next to the teacher aid at recess you see.  I didn’t get much attention at home, my life there was a living hell that no one would ever find out about.  Jimmy? well he was physically sick.  I didn’t really know with what.  His shoulders were always raised up by his chin because he struggled to breathe.  So we both had different reasons for hanging out with the teacher aid at recess while all the other kids frolicked about on a beautiful sunny day.

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Me being the little chatter box, and not really grasping at age 7 that Jimmy was so sick I treated him like anyone else.  I asked him all sorts of questions since he could not run or walk around much.  Why this, why that.  He laughed at my questions.  I told a lot of stories and a lot of jokes.  I asked if he was ever going to get braces.  I asked him all kinds of crazy shit.  (I used to ask my Catholic grandmother if I was reincarnated and maybe I were a rock in another life)

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Jimmy and I went to St. Mary’s Church together as well.  So I am sure that I yapped about CCD too.  I liked our time together.  Me, Jimmy, and the teacher aide.

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Jimmy had been out from school for a few weeks and one morning I came into school and the Mrs. Drapeau said that Jimmy wouldn’t be coming back.  That he was in heaven.

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Her words hung in the air like a garrote, choking the love in my little heart.
*****
Jimmy as I would later learn had Cystic Fibrosis.  I spent a good deal of time in my teens doing the Stair Climb, an annual event during the early 1990’s at the Prudential Center in Boston to raise money for my favorite childhood friend that I lost to death.

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Every year my dad would drive me to Boston and I would get people to sponsor me for each floor that I could walk up. I always made it to the top of it’s 52 floors. Course my legs felt like rubber when I got done. I have asthma, and  sometimes it was a struggle and I would get winded.  It would occur to me as I walked, how Jimmy struggled day after day. How winded he must have been.  That I get relief with an inhaler…. that he suffocated.  I cried as I climbed.

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Since 1965, the term “65 Roses” has been used by children of all ages to describe their disease because it’s easier to pronounce.

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*****
After Jimmy’s funeral, his mother sent me a card.  It read, “Thank you Lexi for being there for my son.  You were his only friend.”  Her words gripped me and I will never forget them. To this day I never realized that all the other kids, were frolicking around, never talked to him, never stopped to get to know him.  Strange, how because of the hell I lived and the horror of what happened in my house, God brought Jimmy and I together.
*****
2 weeks ago, I received a text from my mom which made me ecstatic! It read, “there is a new treatment for Cystic Fibrosis!”  So I ran over and googled it. Sure enough, there is.  It is a brand new FDA approved drug called  “Kalydeco.”

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It reminded me of Jimmy and I smiled, then cried.  Some 35 years later, the love for my friend still lives in my heart.

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~miss you Jimmy~ xoxox
…. … …

4 responses to “1970 something

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