Her name was Angel. I met her when we were just 9 years old, and in the third grade. We were friends, off and on as addresses and life allowed, for over twenty years. She dated my best friend in high school, and I hers. There was many an evening spent during those underage years drinking beer and having fun, in the carefree way that we do as teens. Later, when I was married to my first wife, she was a frequent visitor at my home, and often spent the night on our couch.
I last saw her a week before her thirtieth birthday, just weeks after my divorce was final. She was a little sad that she was turning thirty and not yet married. I told her that I would call her, and that I would listen with a sympathetic ear. That was the last time we spoke, because Angel took her own life 12 days later. That was 13 years ago, and I still think about her from time to time.
Trevor and I used to skip school together. We once skipped and then came back to class bearing McDonald’s hamburgers for the entire class, including the teacher. That was in the tenth grade. Later, we both reconnected when we became firefighters in neighboring fire districts. Missing a toe, he was promoted to Battalion Chief, and earned the nickname of “Chief Nine Toes.” As a chief, he watched out for and looked after my own son when he became a firefighter. He was a good man, a brave man, and a big man. He towered over others, yet was deathly afraid of small dogs and spiders. He retired less than two years ago.
Trevor, a friend of mine for 28 years, passed away last week of a heart attack at 43 years old. I will miss him. Firefighters often have their lives cut short, the job and its stresses shave years off your life.