Lost Boy

 

(2-17-2013: Due to some absolutely unnecessary hysteria out there over this poem, I’m adding this preface:

The date of birth I was given by a friend of Dustin’s was apparently incorrect. If anyone wants to give me the correct one in a civil manner without defaming my character far & wide across the internet, please leave it in the comments below. But hear this: I will NOT tolerate any persecution over relating to everyone the Dustin I knew. He may not have been the Dustin you knew. So if your purpose here is to rant and rave at me about this, please exit this page without leaving your comments. All nastygrams left in the comments will be deleted.)

For Dustin McCartney

dustinmccartney

(?? – April 4, 2008)

Had I known

when you sat at my table

eating spaghetti

or stroganoff

or fluffy golden pancakes with syrup,

or when you sat on my sofa

and laughed at my jokes

and held my daughter’s hand

and watched movies ‘til midnight…

Had I known

when I drove you home at the last minute

so you could beat curfew

or when I called your mom to ask

if you could stay the night

so you wouldn’t get in trouble when you were late,

or when I loaned you my black liner pencil

so you could make yourself up

as the emo kid you never wanted to be…

 

Had I known

the troubled soul you carried

felt weary and burdened,

always let down,

always messing up

always left behind,

trying to change,

trying to hold on,

trying to survive…

 

Had I known…

could I have been the difference?

The mom of the masses

saw one slip through her fingers–

her lost boy.

May God hold you in better stead

than your comrades on earth.

We will miss you at our table

when we have fluffy golden pancakes with syrup.

 –  “Mom”


Author’s Note:  Dustin was my daughter’s boyfriend for about a year in 2004. Valerie has known Dustin since first grade.

On April 4, 2008, Dustin was with friends at the Maple Street Bridge near downtown Spokane. Drunk and whipping off items of clothing, he shimmied out on a beam of the understructure of the bridge. His friends tried to talk him back to solid ground, finally succeeding. While turning around to go back to the safety of the bridge, Dustin lost his balance and fell 100-150 feet to his death.

His death was ruled an accident; it is not believed that he committed suicide. However, the thrill-seeking, daring-do personalities give me pause to wonder why these kids feel they must risk so much – just for the adrenaline spike? To be able to feel something other than desolation? Or just because they think they’re ten-feet-tall, bullet-proof, and unbreakable? I do know that Dustin was dissatisfied with his life. He had attended church with his father the week before his death, and had asked if he could go again. I know in my heart he was seeking.

I cannot imagine the anguish his family must feel, because I sit here, the “mother of the masses,” and my heart is crushed. This boy ate at my table, sat in my living room as part of my family, borrowed my black eyeliner, made my daughter laugh and cry – and I have to try somehow to wrap my mind around the fact that I will never see him again. I can’t help but wonder, as anyone would in circumstances such as these, if my door wasn’t open enough; if I was not enough of a “mom to the masses” to invite his trust; if I had known his circumstances, could I have sought him out and prevented what happened? I’m sure the same kinds of questions are circling in my daughter’s mind as well. Her heart was filled with “what ifs” and “what could be’s,” and now she has only “never agains.”

These are questions for which we will never have the answers. My heart aches for his friends and most of all for his family.

Dustin, may you still have had enough innocence left for your name to be written in the Book of Life; may God give you the comfort we were somehow unable to offer; and may there be plenty of fluffy golden pancakes with syrup. I love you.

©2008 Sharon Gerlach

8 thoughts on “Lost Boy”

  1. i was really sad when i heard about what had happened to Dusty and i still think about him often and what could have been.

    1. Shelly, I still think about him often, too, especially in the summer because that’s when he would usually show up at my door out of the blue and sit and chat with us for an afternoon. Really, really miss that kid.

  2. He was a really good friend i had a lot of good times with him. I miss him I wish we didn’t have to say goodbye but I lost my nephews and niece and he was such a good friend he’ll be watching over us with them. Thank you Dustin still the best friend I ever had I’ll miss you. Frank black Aja darken

  3. I miss him everyday, I think about him everyday. I use to wonder what if and what could I have done, but now I think I will see you one day. I am sorry that you and Valerie had to lose such a great guy. I know my mom feels the same as you. She was so hurt when she found out. I am glad you wrote this cuz it shows a side of Dustin that not many people know.

    1. Hi, Wenzdae,

      I haven’t seen you in so long – since you were in grade school, I think!

      It was heartbreaking to get the news about Dustin; even now I keep expecting him to show up in the summer & sit on the porch with us & chat & try to cadge a beer off me. It doesn’t seem like summer without a day visit from Dustin.

      One day I’ll see him again. And I’ll miss him every day between now and that day.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. Josh says “Hi.” :-)

      1. Its been some time sense I have been around.

        I know how you feel. I am always waiting for him to show up in the winter to go snowboarding with us. I miss him a lot. I know Valerie did not find out tell after the funeral and I am really sorry about that. I have been thinking about him a lot recently and am going to go and visit him soon.

        I only found the blog because I was gogling him and it popped up. I read it so much. It helps me when I really need to remember. I am glad you wrote it.

        Tell him I say Hello

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Character-driven fiction. Because characters matter.

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