No more lost boys

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.


6 thoughts on “No more lost boys

  1. Miss Natalie,
    I’m sorry that you and your family are going through this right now. Losing someone is hard, it’s especially hard when it’s a child. My thoughts and prayers go out to you, your family, and all of Coty’s friends and family.


  2. Oh my goodness, how incredibly sad. What that young man must have been through, what he must have endured. I am crying for him too. I will soon be a teacher, and I will look for other little children who seem lost or maltreated in some way. I want to be like that principal you described. I want to make a difference because no small child should endure such heart break…it’s just not right. So sorry.

  3. Thank you for your prayers. And thank you for the action you are willing to take for our children. We never know what an act of caring can do. Even just stopping to ask if someone is okay could make the difference.

  4. I am a critical care nurse/trauma nurse and mother of four. Your words hit home with me, as too many of our little ones have been led astray and left alone. Bless you and your family as you weather this storm and try to endure the hardships that a tragedy like this leave behind.
    I myself have often talked with teenagers, who one minute are chatting about their days, and seem “normal.” The next minute I find them in my hospital, having overdosed or tried to commit suicide in some other fashion.
    I will stand with you as a mother and a gentle soul on this planet and say no more. Thank you for speaking out against this horror. This must end now.

  5. I realize it’s been a full year since you posted this, but I just read it tonight. I’m sitting here with tears in my eyes for the loss of another young person.

    Coty may have been a “lost boy,” but he will never be a “forgotten boy,” thanks to this post. I didn’t even know him, but your words have touched me and I may never be able to get him out of my head. You see, I “know” Coty. Not the Coty you write about, but a know a boy like him…or at least not so different from him. Your post makes me ask, “What more can I do than I’m already doing?” I don’t know the answer, but I know that now I will never stop asking that question…

    Thank you for the reminder. I have no doubt that you made a positive impact on Coty and that he’s somewhere looking down on you and smiling with the wonderful memories you shared.

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