I grew up in a very tightly knit town in New Jersey. It was strange how strong the sense of community was there, and I can only remember a very happy childhood with summers full of flashlight tag and climbing trees and swimming at the town pool, winters full of building snow forts and dancing to the old music on a juke box.
The children from my grade stayed unusually close. Even after my parents moved us out of the town to a new one, I still saw my old friends as much as my new ones. I even now still go to bars with them and have back yard barbeques. The mothers and fathers of the town always remark at how close we all are still, some of them I consider as close to me as brothers and sisters.
I didn’t hold contact with Brenton after I moved, aside from some messages exchanged when I was about 16 and then a few months ago. We were somewhat close when we were younger, I remember that he and another kid were incredibly talented with drawing comics. I remember begging Brenton to teach me to draw his comic characters- these chickens to this day I find myself scribbling absentmindedly on notepaper. Big bulging eyes, little squat bodies, stringy legs.
Last month I was home with one of my close girl friends from that particular group. She sadly mentioned to me that Brenton had committed suicide the week before, though not sure on all the details. A group of the guys from our grade had all come home immediately, had all memorialized him by getting a tattoo of one of his drawings of the initials of our hometown delicately placed in the shape of a heart.
It hadn’t really hit me all that hard until tonight. I’m not sure where the emotion came from but my chest suddenly feels heavy as though I’m going to cry. I’m not even sure I would have ever seen him again- I hadn’t seen him since I moved. It was strange also because he had sent me messages through facebook a few months before, just simple catching up and such. I didn’t think I would miss him this much.
A picture of Brenton from when I remember him
One of Brenton’s cartoons with the famous chickens, click on it to read