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(TW: Suicide, depression)

Clark was beautiful and charming.  When I say beautiful I mean a heartthrob.  A real heart-breaker.

He loved to work out; lifting weights and building muscle.

At sixteen he’d lived more of a life than a lot of people at sixty.  He’d seen more, been exposed to more, and had more than enough heartache.

His father was a looker too.  A body builder.  A dope head. He’d gone to prison when Clark was just seven.

The other kids at school teased him unmercifully about his jail-bird daddy.  What do seven-year-olds know about jail-birds? They probably just parroted whatever they heard their mamas and daddies saying.

Clark found a way to deal with the bullying.  He found a hand-gun underneath his grandmother’s bed.  He slipped that hand-gun into his back pack and took it to school.  When the kids picked on him again he took that gun out of his back pack.

He pointed it at them and then at the teacher who tried to stop him.  The gun was loaded.  The only thing that stood between a seven-year-old and revenge was the safety.

At seven he was promptly expelled from the public school system in that county.  None of the parents wanted Clark in a class with their kids.

His crack-head of a mother made a half-hearted attempt to keep him in some kind of school.  But out of work and a convicted felon, herself, she struggled to even get out of bed in the mornings.  She couldn’t afford a private school and other public schools in the area hesitated.

For a while he managed to stay in school, even scoring a spot on the football team.  When he got caught selling drugs at school that ended that.  Expelled again.

Perhaps he shouldn’t have been selling drugs but at thirteen, most likely, he didn’t have a choice.  Not one that he saw anyway.  A thirteen-year-old needs to eat.  A thirteen-year-old providing for his mother.

By the time he was sixteen he’d lived an entire lifetime.  He was trying to get his life together.  He’d gotten legitimate work in construction and was quite talented for it.

One brisk November night, two days before Thanksgiving, he and some friends had a bonfire.  By all accounts they were having a good time.  Clark waxed serious and cryptic, muttering something about there having to be more to life.  He decided to go to bed.

Minutes later his friends heard the loud shot ring out.  They ran inside to find the door to Clark’s room locked.  He wouldn’t answer.  He couldn’t answer.  By the time they broke the door down he was gone.  The shot-gun he’d lodged in his open mouth lying next to him on the floor.

We never know the pain of another.  I’ve always mourned the loss of a life so full of potential.  Clearly he didn’t see it that way.  He didn’t see anything better.  I’m sorry for that.   I’m sorry his pain was so deep he could not bear it.  And I’m sorry we were oblivious to it.  Blindsided.