I'm Just Sayin'
Random Thoughts from a Random Guy

Gone, But Not Forgotten

That's me in the back row, on the left and my friend Kevin on the right.

March 25, 1985 started off like any other day.  But little did I know by that evening my life would change forever.

It was a Monday.  Eight days earlier I had turned 12.  I was loving life as much as you can at that age.  I was wearing a mouth full of metal, soon to be fitted for braces, and I was close to getting my first pair of glasses.  But I was otherwise healthy and happy.

My mom had picked me up from school that sunny afternoon, and as we drove down our street, I waved to a friend of mine.  His name was also Kevin.  He was walking to his house, which was a few doors down from ours.  He was wearing a blue sweatsuit and a tshirt that said “I Love My ATV.”  He was also eating a snack bag of potato chips.  Kevin half heartedly waved back to me as he was digging in for more chips.  I remember he nodded his head at me too.

I went inside the house and started doing my homework.  About 45 minutes later, my younger brother came running into the house with another neighbor kid.  They said that Kevin had been in an accident while riding another neighbor’s 3 wheeler in the wooded area at the ended of our street.  My mom and I joined other neighbors and Kevin’s sisters to rush to the scene.  They kept us kids back as the ambulance raced to the field to help our friend.

At that moment, I thought maybe he had some broken bones and he’d soon join us back at school.  We had 3rd hour math together with Mr. Simpson.  I figured I’d be bringing his homework home for a few days while he convalesced.  Kevin’s sisters, Coleen and Carrie, joined us at our house that afternoon and into the evening as his parents rushed from work to get to the hospital.  I remember at one point Carrie crying and being upset and I told her everything would be alright.  Little did any of us know I was dreadfully wrong.

As the hours went on, another neighbor kid, Mike, said he heard that Kevin had died.  Honestly that whole time the thought never once crossed my mind that he might be dead.  I didn’t even want to think about it, but I did say a quick prayer to myself as we went back to the game we were playing.

It must have been close to 8 p.m. when Kevin’s parents arrived at our house to pick up his sisters.  I remember we had been playing our basement and I had come upstairs for something.  I looked outside to see my mom hugging his parents in our driveway.  I took that as a bad sign.  I nervously watched as they all came inside the house and wiped the tears from their eyes before heading downstairs.  Just as Kevin’s folks walked down the steps, I gave my mom a look and she nodded in response, knowing exactly what I was thinking.  I instantly began sobbing and ran to a bedroom as to not make a scene.

My parents tried to comfort me and explain what had happened and said that Kevin’s injuries were too severe for the doctors to save.  I don’t know why, but for some reason I went to school the next day.  Physically, I was there, but mentally I was someplace else.  I cried several times through the day and even went in to speak with the school counselor.  While her words were comforting, it did nothing to ease the pain.

The rest of that week all ran together and is a blur now.  I remember going to the funeral home and looking down at my friend’s lifeless body.  It was the first time I had attended a funeral that wasn’t an elderly person.  It was very surreal.  Friends and classmates gathered outside the viewing room and we chatted about our lost friend.  We laughed and cried too.  The next day many returned as Kevin was laid to rest.

I mentioned earlier that Kevin’s death changed me.  It made me more fearful of dying myself and losing others that I love.  Of course I’ve come to realize that death is natural, but not when you’re 12.  With the support of my family and the help of counseling, I’ve changed for the better.  But now that my own kids are reaching that age, I often think about Kevin and his family.  Shortly after the accident they moved to another town and we lost touch. I’ve reconnected with his sisters through Facebook.  I know his father has since passed away, but I can’t help to think about the heartache they felt and that his mother still feels.

Then I wonder what if he’d lived.  What if he never got on that 3 wheeler that day?  His family would have likely stayed in the neighborhood.  We would have gone to high school together.  And I’m sure we too would be Facebook friends.

That was 26 years ago.  And I think about Kevin often.  My parents still live in that same subdivision, but that wooded lot is now a shopping complex with a Schnucks grocery store, a Sears hardware store, and an Applebee’s among other businesses.  Each time I drive to my parents’ house I think of Kevin and that day so long ago.  I also remember the happier times of pool hopping in the summer, watching MTV for the first time on their satellite dish, and playing Khoury league baseball together.

Oddly enough on the night before my wedding I went to that Applebee’s with my groomsmen and a couple of others friends.  As I drank a beer in celebration of the big day, I thought of Kevin.  I smiled as I raised the glass remembering the good ol’ days and thinking about what my own future might hold.

So on this day, 26 years later, I remember my old friend Kevin Lohse, may he continue to rest in peace.

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2 Responses to “Gone, But Not Forgotten”

  1. I remember that day well. I called Anthony Chan to give him the horrible news but he didn’t believe me. My mom had to get on the phone and assure him that I was not playing some sick joke. That day I swore I would never ride a 3 wheeler and have not been on an ATV in my life. I wish my couysin would have done the same as he was killed on one a few years later.

  2. Powerful story. Thanks for sharing. Going to a child’s funeral is already tragic. But going through that at 12 yrs old must’ve been traumatic. I bet you wouldn’t let your parents leave the house out of fear that something bad would happen to them.


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