Saturday the 6th was Coty Hill’s funeral. My son was a pall bearer. Coty had a sweet smile. He was polite. In middle school he used to hog the ball on the basketball court, but by high school he’d learned he was part of the team. He used to spend the night at our house sometimes, sleeping in Sim’s bunk bead and playing hide and seek in the dark yard at night . He was one of my boys.
The first time I brought Coty back to his home I was confused. “I live here,” he said. “Where?” I asked. I saw a couple of older trailers but nothing at the place he told me to stop. “Here,” he said again. And then I realized that the dark trailer with no front door and no electricity wasn’t abandoned. It was his home. I let him out. His mom wasn’t there. I never met her. Coty had a hard time when he was little. Sometimes the police picked him up because he was out just walking around town at 3 or 4 in the morning. He was only 8 or 9 at the time. The principal of his elementary school took an interest in Coty. No, it was more than an interest, she loved him. She’d let him stay after school and do homework in the library or her office until she was ready to close up. She made sure he had what he needed each day. Even when he moved to middle school she looked after him, checking with his teachers, making sure he was okay. It was in middle school that Simeon met Coty and they became buddies. I knew that Cindy Duryea would know what was going on with Coty even if his family didn’t.
I hadn’t seen Coty in a while, but would ask about him now and then. Two weeks ago while driving across the bridge, I saw him in the middle of the school day, but he wasn’t in uniform and I realized he wasn’t enrolled. It’s their senior year and I was concerned. I meant to check on him. I didn’t though. And one week ago, on Saturday night, October 30th, he put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. Two of his friends were with him, sitting in disbelief. Simeon had been with him the night before but had decided to stay home that night. The van he was sitting when he blew his head apart sat in front of his friend’s house for days, the remains of the traumatic event on one side and stuffed animals, toys and notes on the other.
I am crying as I write this. One of my boys is gone. My son is distraught. The boys who were with him are trying to be stoic but I am worried about them. Worried for all of them. I wish I had done something. I wish someone had done something. I wish he’d waited 10 more minutes. 1 hour. 1 day. Maybe things would have looked better.
I recently heard that more young people between 15 – 30 died last year from suicide then from war. And I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it. We must find a way to save our children. Please, no more lost boys. Or girls. No more.