The very next night April 3rd, 1993
Now I lay me down to sleep my boy is gone and I’m here to weep When I’m taken, when I die, god just tell the fellas I said goodbye. Cause that’s the word I long to hear and why you took a young bright boy I’m still not clear But love I will shit, still and forever cause things in life, shit can only get better In my heart you’ll eternally remain until we dance again in heavenly rain Good night my lord Amen, amen Don’t know if I’ll ever sleep again. I miss you Matt, already
“Carl, hunny wake up Carl, wake up,” It was a touch after midnight, I was dead asleep, and my mothers soft hand was rubbing my head. “Ma?” I was puzzled as my mother thanked the lord every night I was home soft asleep at a reasonable hour and not out causing mischief with my friends. My father always said that success was measured in terms of how many hours of rest one got the night before. “yo” I was miffed and asked wiping that staple cold out of collapsed eye lids. Then I quickly became alert seeing a different kind of the pain in her voice. “Carl,” her tone was changing, as if oral anesthesia had been administered causing word deliverance to physically shift. And with her breath would come the end of my life as I knew, “Carl, Matt was in a car accident tonight.” “Yeah” “And” her voice cracks, “And he’s hurt really bad Carl” The tears now unable to be held back, the pain of having to tell me something she knows will evict the compass I’d found in the ACE program with Coach Throbashke she courageously honors her duty and says, “Matt’s dead.” “Santo?”
Tears swell her Edison’s as she weakly nods. I was a still life, just like the lawnmower rendered me numb to the cutting and sharpened blades pain, I was in a state of shock. “I’m so sorry Carl, I’m so sorry.” The seconds stood still as I just couldn’t believe what my mother had just woken me up and said. At the same time I knew it was true. Confused as to what to do and needing this “now” moment admonished, I tightly clenched my fist and punched a wall in my bedroom. The worry in my mothers face observing the train wreck of my volatile law breaking youthful confusion scared her. “I’m” but I couldn’t get another word out, and as my mother cried and hugged the most emotional kid on the planet, I sat up and just stared blankly across the room. I looked up, and I looked down, I forced myself to cry but it was forced, I was too jolted to share in my mother’s resignation. “Oh Carl, we loved Matt so very much. He was just over the house on Wednesday playing with little John.” Holding my mother and stroking the back of her neck filtering my fingers through her recently lightened brown hair I still had nothing to say. My mother who’d lost so much was being as strong as she could be under the personal pain she felt losing a big part of our gang. She loved them all just as much. They filled the same void for her, we were her boys, she’d never give anyone of us up for anything.
I was calm, too calm, and if it was true, and even if I knew it was true, I just couldn’t yet believe it. I punched the wall again. I sat down both of us in silence. Soon in the darkness of my bedrooms night the illumination of car headlights scanned across my walls. Sniffing up emotion that a second ago was not present a small tear fought gallantly to be exposed and when, my mother looking up notices this first real tear she asks, “what baby?” and I said only, “that’s Magic.” I then knew it was true. Intuitive as always, it was a tough gut punch in the early rounds, I took a deep breath, inflating my cheeks upon exhale trying so very hard not to lose it, but that was Magic. Another deep breath, “I love you mom, I’ll be OK, let’s go downstairs.” Tears so instantly replaced by that reigning king of all emotions, fear, “Oh Carl your not going out? It’s almost 1 AM?” Too many auspices, emotion and track records I understood where she was coming from, but numbed and focused on what lay ahead I calmly hugged her and again, “Shhh, mommy, lets go downstairs, lets see Mike. I love you” We embraced in shock.
“I love you” we walked downstairs to find Magic just walking through the door (with out knocking, none of us ever did) like he had so many thousands of time throughout childhood into our kitchen. “Carl,” he was revved up, dumfounded and wore a face devoid of reason. I had stayed in, he had been out, he’d had a festive night, content, I had a restless night not content, I’d been engaging in a self pity over the fact no one have offered to pick me up at tonight’s party. “Did you just find out?” “Yeah.” My mother sits down at the kitchen table, grabbing her token Zanex bottle and lighting a cigarette I’m looking eye to eye with magic before he breaks the silence. “Carl, this is one of our best friends, 5th Grade Bridge school,!”” “I know” “he was a Young Gun Mike” “I know” “we went back to the 1st grade” “Yup” “Santo’s our fucking boy.” “I know” I got teared up. This was happening. And even my most sophisticated denial practices couldn’t absorb Magic’s last comment. I wanted to play make believe but couldn’t. I kicked save exhaling my cheeks this a tool only for the few, emergency rooms, death and panic were a mainstay in my life, I could kick the emotion aside for a little while even in the face of the saddest thing you ever heard. Deny it