It’s been a couple of weeks since we last talked but I’m glad you called when you did. It was great catching up with you and talking about the old times. Like you, I miss them. I miss the times we all used to have, I missed playing ball together but most of all I miss being around you and all of the guys. You were right, we didn’t realize how great things were when we had it. Shit was pretty easy back then when the toughest thing was not being too hungover to get a grade in LARP.
Good ol’ Johnny Knuckleskins. Goddamn man, that name still makes me laugh. That guy could grill a steak too.
We’re lucky we didn’t get tetanus that summer we all stayed in Blair and worked out together grilling with that old ass grill I had and rusty ass cooking sheets. I still remember when I handed it to you and you deadpanned “Hey Chipper, you got any with less rust? These are pretty good steaks.”
I only knew you as a football player when we started out. You were that tight end that was part of the Sioux City Heelan crew that had that tattoo up above his bicep. Man I didn’t know if you were kidding around half the time or being serious.
Then we took that creative writing class together for one of the Dana requisites. I’m not sure what I expected but I remember you writing a story about a football game you played in back in high school. The loss and how bad it hurt because it was the last time you and your friends from high school would ever be together. For 19 year old me, it was very relatable.
I wasn’t the only football player in the room when you shared that and I know it bonded a lot of us together even more. You were an emotional guy and if the moment arose you could unleash hell. I witnessed it and respected you for that. You had me ready to run through a brick wall when we played at Oklahoma Panhandle State to start that one season. Too bad we couldn’t get it to become a win on the field that night.
I don’t think there was one guy that embodied “brotherhood” from back in our Dana days better than you. You were the guy that would go hunting or fishing with all the small town boys, hit the party with the Hawaiians and be first in the weight room with everyone else. That’s why back in 2004 when I was trying to grow my business and was going to be in Rapid City that I knew I could call you to crash on your couch and save some money on a hotel room. PS, I’m pretty sure your dog never forgave me.
Man, I think the last time I saw you was January of 2015. You were in Omaha for a family thing where someone was playing hockey. I can’t remember who. I got lucky and was around at the same time. I’m glad we connected in person after talking on the phone the last year or so.
You had been there for me. You knew the person I truly was and when I was going through a pretty tough time the previous years with the divorce and my legal issues you’d always pick up the phone. I knew you had some stuff happening too. It was good to just go back and forth, to have someone understand the stress of losing friends and being shutout when shit when awry.
Goddamnit man. . . it’s hard to see my keyboard through these tears.
I wish we could’ve had one more call. One more time that you could’ve talked to me like the last time. I know you had your struggles man, we all have. The brotherhood was here and we would’ve helped. I know the pain I feel right now but it can’t compare to what your family and your really close friends are going through. I can’t even imagine your children. . .
I’m glad you called. I’m glad we got to talk about football one more time. I’m glad you told me about your kids and how happy they made you and how proud you were to be there dad. I know man, maybe someday still for me. But I was so stoked to hear things were turning around for you.
I wish there could’ve been one more call. One more text. I was here for you again man.
Thanks for being there for me Knuckleskins. I wish I could’ve done more to ease your pain, to be another voice for you to listen to or just to vent to. I guess we won’t have that last phone call. See you Tuesday my brother, I just wish it didn’t have to be like this.
Miss you big guy,
For any of my friends out there reading this. . .you might think you will never be in a position to take your own life but if you do or are even questioning it CALL. CALL ME, Call ANYONE. I will literally hop in my truck and drive all night to be there with you. I will get on a plane and come see you. Don’t end it. Too many people out there care about you.