My two days in the hospital were pretty uneventful and pretty quick. Before I knew it, I was back home, under some basic orders from the doctor:
1. One, you can take the back brace off to sleep, but you must always sleep on your side.
2. You can take the back brace off every other day for a shower.
3. No physical activity and no bending.
It was easy, except for the fact that I loved taking at least two hot showers a day, I loved sleeping on my side and I loved being physically active. Other than those three things, it was easy to follow those three orders. Still, I obeyed, because I knew I wanted to retain my ability to walk. One fuck up and I could ruin that.
I was healing slowly. In fact, I still hadn't felt any sign of healing, but I was told that I was lucky to be 16, because a 40 year old would be healing even a lot slower than that. It still took forever to get out of bed and I was getting these awful dull aches in my thighs and balls that I still get today. (I found out that they are related to a nerve in the part of the spine I injured.)
After a couple of days at home, I woke up from my coma routine and saw a guy sitting in the chair across from just staring at me. It wasn't a mean stare, or a creepy stare or an overly sympathetic stare, it was just a neutral stare. I would later learn that this guy just had a habit of staring directly into your eyes whenever he thought deliberately about what he was going to say.
I could tell the guy had probably been sitting there patiently, and for quite some time, until I finally woke up. He could have been there minutes or hours, I'll never know, but he had definitely been waiting until I was ready. Then he spoke in his matter of fact way:
Him: I bet you feel as bad as you look.
Me: That depends. Do I look like shit?
Him: Yeah. Pretty much.
Me: Well, then I'd have to say you're right. You're name's Ed, right?
Him: Yep. I heard you weren't doing so hot.---------------------
OK, so here was the deal on Ed. I had met him one time. He was good friends with my good friend, Blank. We had met weeks before at Blank's house and hung out with a bunch of other people at the house that day. I knew he was a senior two years older than me, and I had heard he was trouble, but I never saw it myself.
It was the early 90's, and Ed looked every bit like a teenager from the early 90's without being one of those cliche grunge kids or one of those silly cross-color wearing wigger kids. He had that somewhat-bowl cut that went around your head kind of high. He was a blond dude with a really round skull kind of like a cabbage patch kid.
What I couldn't figure out was how Ed figured out where I lived or why he came to visit me. He had never been to my house, he lived 10 miles away in Mooresville, he was older than me, and I honestly didn't think he would've remembered me if he had seen me again after that one time we met. I figured my Mom had let him in, but I really wasn't sure. Our conversation continued:
Ed: Have you left the house since you've been back?
Me: No. I've been here the whole time.
Ed: Well, that's no good. Let's get you out of here for a while.
Me: How did you know where I lived?
Ed: Blank told me how to get here. I know where there's a pool party in Bridgeport where a lot of your friends are. You need to get off your ass and out of the house. It'll do you some good. I've already checked with your mom, she said it was OK.
Me: O-kay? I guess I can go. But it's gonna take me a while to get out of bed.
Ed: That's fine. I can wait. I got a new sound system in my Thunderbird. The bass will probably feel good on your back.-------------------------------------------------------
I've never enjoyed rap music so much. I remember Ed had that damn Onyx song that was new at the time playing on a CD on repeat the whole way to the party. He was right, the bass did feel good.
As we rode to the party that night, I could tell this was the first day of this guy becoming a pretty good friend to me. Few people got to see this side of him. I don't think he gave a shit whether they knew he was a nice guy or not. They just believed what they heard. While I knew I had a new friend, I didn't know was how short our friendship would turn out to be. It was May, and Ed was alive while I felt dead. I didn't know then that the following May, we would switch roles. But for the moment, I was riding shotgun. And a year from then, Ed would decide to eat one.
I don't want to go into Ed's death too much for a couple of reasons. First off, it was his death, not mine. I hate people who try to turn someone else's misfortune into their avenue to try to get attention. Still, he turned into a pretty good friend, and I don't want to not mention him like he didn't exist. He did exist. And he was a damn good guy. I joke that he was probably my 8th best friend at the time he decided to leave us. I probably just missed the cut in being mentioned in his homemade will that he left behind. And justifiably so. If I was suicidal, he probably would have just missed the cut in making into my letter, too.
I know he had troubles, and I know his troubles won out. And I know I've had people much closer to me have died whose deaths have affected me less. I don't know why. Yes, I do. It's because he was so nice for no reason. And I knew he would've eventually made something of himself if he didn't feel the need to do what he did to himself.
I'll leave my memories of my year of being friends with Ed by telling one funny story about him.
A couple of weeks before he died, he was issued a citation that only one other person in North Carolina had ever received: Instructing While Impaired.
North Carolina used to issue some kids a provisional license that would allow them to drive only as long as there was another licensed driver in the front passenger seat with them.
One day Lame-O (who I once justifiably popped in the head with a Pepsi can) was pulled over for speeding by a cop. While Lame-O was totally sober, Ed was in the passenger seat drunk as shit and technically in the role of "instructor." So he basically got charged with the bizarre crime of having a designated driver.
Oh, one other funny thing from his suicide note. (There's a sentence you don't see every day.) Besides leaving lots of my pals lots of his shit in a suicide will that didn't count, he also mentioned Kurt Cobain. He mentioned him to the effect of, "Don't let anyone say that what I did had to do with Kurt Cobain's suicide a few weeks ago at all. I am not one of those copy-cat suicide posers. This has nothing to do with that. It completely has to do with _______."
That guy was funny as hell. I can't believe it's been almost 15 years. It feels like only 10.