As icy roads delayed my Thanksgiving trip to Dallas, I browsed through a scrapbook and found a poem a long-ago neighbor had given me 15 years ago from her 20-year-old son.
As I write this, their Portales house with the snowy roof sits as cold and empty as their 1998 Christmas.
To drape their painful memories, I will call her “Mom” and him “Son.”
On Dec. 5, 1998, Son got into a beer-fueled brawl at a Portales party. A burly young man knocked him down and stomped his head. Son was airlifted to Albuquerque, but died two days later.
Mom told me then when kids get in a beer fight, they expect they’ll go home with a few bruises and laugh about it later.
Son’s favorite movie was “Every Which Way But Loose.” Clint Eastwood gets into barroom brawls, but no one gets seriously hurt.
“My son expected it to end the same way,” Mom told me. “But real life isn’t like the movies.”
Mom speculated no one came to her son’s rescue because violence in entertainment and society had cheapened life.
Eventually, the attacker pleaded guilty and received a relatively light sentence.
Although a toddler when his father died at 33 from what Mom called an “emotional sickness,” Son felt the void.
Mom said Son had stopped going out much in the months before his death, and had gotten into “intellectual stuff” — including scribbling poems on tablets she’d given him.
Here is an excerpt from Son’s “Kindred Spirits.”
“A lone wolf howled at the moon; In the dead of night on a sandy dune; He howled for sorrow; He howled for pain; He howled for thunder; He howled for rain; Life had no meaning, nothing to give; Nothing to offer, no reason to live.”
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