Eight Minutes

Eight minutes…eight minutes…eight minutes and he was gone.
 
He is obviously more present dead than alive.
 
Solid, stoic, and oppressively kind, he was a young man of few words and gone before the smoke from the gun settled into the grassy lawn.
 
It was eight minutes from the time he stepped out of his brother’s car (singing, laughing, and joking) to the moment his bloody head hit the floor.
 
Minutes after midnight, his infectious smile, hearty bear hug, that mischievous twinkle in his sparking blue eyes, and his contagious laugh…going…going…gone.
 
Wearing his heart on his sleeve, he never hesitated to lend a helping hand. A Pied Piper to his three-year-old son and a twenty-eight-year old Peter Pan to all that knew and loved him, he was a curious Huckleberry Finn; as tartly honest as a green apple and wise as an owl who never mimicked the song the mocking bird sang. 
  
We were as different as fall is to spring. A hunter and fisherman who preferred the silent stirrings deep in the wood, I doubt he would have been as comfortably confined in a Broadway theatre as I. However, our blood was ladled from the same caldron that runs red in our inherited veins; and thicker than the water that rinsed the blood from his peaceful face last October that never breathed animated again.
 
  When an uncle holds a new born nephew in his arms, sings lullabies to calm his enfant fears, and reads fairy tales to inspire his imagination to grow, the boy is his forever and forever he belongs to the boy. 

 Eight minutes…eight minutes…eight minutes and he was gone.

 His mother, my sister has lost the curl in her smile.

His father, my brother-in-law (who taught him to load a gun) is taunted and tortured by regret and loneliness from dusk until dawn.

 “Daddy is the man who lives on the moon,” his son says and points to the orb in the sky before settling onto the seat his father assembled only months before. “He talks to me when I swing high.” So, he climbs higher and higher, smiling wide with glee, hoping to touch the outstretched hand of the man in the moon.

  Now his spirit, wild as a bobcat and gentle as a baby lamb is free. Free is his spirit to spark the bulb in his son’s night light at the end of the day. Free is his spirit to be the scent in a rose his mother picks to smell on Mother’s Day. Free is his spirit to transform into the hawk his father spots soaring in the sky.

 Perhaps, we’ll never know what was said between a couple in crisis moments before the shot echoed in the valley and startled the crows in the black trees lining the dark river late that night, but forever we will wonder…and ponder…and miss the boy-man who will never grow old.

Eight minutes…eight minutes…eight minutes and he was gone. 

Richmond, VA. Jer Long is a devoted fan and frequent class participant in Life In Ten Minutes.