It was the day of my 8th-grade graduation. I had taken a traditional folk song and written my own words for it to sing at the ceremony. I was nervous. I had sung in public many times before, but today Kevin was coming. Kevin would hear me sing!
I wore a pink satin slip dress and had my hair done. I felt fancy and grown up. Unfortunately, I had a nasty bruise on my arm from the boy I was seeing. I covered it up with makeup the best that I could. My boyfriend and I would play fight sometimes. I was a bit of a tomboy. Sometimes it would get a little rough, but it wasn’t the boy’s fault. It wasn’t intentional, at least, I didn’t think so. He was just bigger and stronger than I was and I was always trying to be such a tough girl.
The ceremony began. I got up to sing. As I looked out into the crowd, I saw Kevin. He sat with his family toward the back. He came, Mohawk and all! My fear instantly vanished at the sight of his big smile and his crazy hair. After the ceremony, my class and I stood in the back of the chapel for our friends and family to come and congratulate us. I shook hands, gave hugs, and blushed as I thanked those complimenting me for the song I sang. It was all nice, but what I was anxiously waiting for was to see Kevin.
Then, he appeared, he was pushing his way through the crowd. He practically plowed me down and gave me that rib crushing, Kevin bear hug that I loved so much. “Hey, beautiful! You did great! That song was awesome!” He said as he hugged me. I beamed with pride as I pulled away from his embrace and saw everyone around us sneaking sideways glances at him. He stuck out like a sore thumb with his Mohawk and patched jacket in a chapel full of dressed up conservative people. It made me smile even more than I already was. That’s right, go ahead and look at him. That’s my cousin you’re gawking at, the coolest guy around.
He glanced down at my arm and grabbed it. “What the hell is this!?” “It’s just a bruise Kevin; it’s okay,” I replied. “From what!? It’s huge!” He gripped my arm tighter. “It’s from the guy I am seeing. We were just playing around. He didn’t mean to hurt me.” I said defensively. “Where is he!? That little shit! Is he here? I’ll kill him!” He looked around the room. I snuck a glance at my boyfriend in the line up of 8th graders. My boyfriend glanced back at me wide-eyed. “Don’t worry about it Kevin; he is harmless. I am fine.” I said consoling him. “Well, alright, but if anyone hurts you Taw-shina, I will kick all their f***ing teeth in with my steel tip boots, I am not kidding.” He said with a stern face. “Okay, Kevin,” I replied. “I love you.” “I love you too kid.” He said back to me as he hugged me one more time before walking off. I felt a sudden surge of power and strength after his words. No one could hurt me. I will always be safe with Kevin around. He was my strength. He was my superpower.
Kevin and I still saw each other at family parties, and he would continue to call me from time to time to fill me in on his life. I had dove into boys and boyfriend drama with both feet. Kevin was still my world, but I had discovered a new source of affection to soothe my soul when he wasn’t around. He would tell me about his friends, girlfriends, and any crazy adventures in his life. He would also give me advice about boys while threatening their lives as he did. One day at the end of a family get-together we were saying our goodbyes, and I finally got the courage to ask him a question, “Hey, Kev.?…” I started. “Yeah, what’s up kid?” He looked at me questioningly. “How do I give a blow-job?” I blurted out and looked up at him nervously. He laughed out a loud laugh. He didn’t even blush. He smiled his sly, toothy grin and looked down at me, “I will always help you with anything Taw-shina, but with this one, you are on your own.” He chuckled again and said, “You will figure it out one day.” He messed up my hair and pushed my head a bit, then left. I still laugh about that memory to this day.
He seemed happier these days. He was always in and out of trouble, but he had his Punk family. He latched onto his new ideologies and had people to fight for; he seemed stronger. He was still broken and lost inside but searching for his happiness. I didn’t know much about his life or his world at that time being in my Christian school/ church/ strict home bubble. I only knew what he would tell me. He was a leader. He was always getting into fights and defending his friends or trying to be tough somehow. He loved his Punk family and was most definitely a ladies man.
(In my mind, he was Jack in the movie “Suburbia” at that time)
One day he told me about a girl named Becca. He liked her a lot. I didn’t hear from him as much once he was seeing her, but it was okay, I had made some new skater friends in my neighborhood at this point, and they kept me busy. I was wrapped up in them and he was wrapped up in her and his Punk family. We lost touch a bit, but knew we were always a phone call away.
(My neighborhood “sneak out buddies” – minus my little sister sitting next to me in this picture)
I was finally going to get to meet this famous Becca at my cousin’s wedding. I was so excited to see Kevin! It had been forever! I couldn’t wait to tell him everything that was going on in my life these days. I was sitting at the table during the reception and Kevin sat down. “Hi!” I exclaimed. My excitement quickly died down when I saw her sit down. She was thin and pretty, with light colored hair. He started to introduce her to me. I realized it was the first time I wasn’t hanging on his every word. I wasn’t even listening to him! I was in my head. I was eyeing her up, thinking : Are you good enough for my cousin? My superpower? My hero? Who are you really, hmm?? He realized I wasn’t listening to him. “Hey kid! Are you listening to me?” he asked. I snapped out of it and looked up at him. “Oh, yeah, sorry Kev. What were you saying?” “This is Becca, my girlfriend.” He said, looking at her, smiling ear to ear at her. He touched her leg and then put his long arm around her small shoulders. He glowed with pride as he did it. I wanted to scowl in jealousy and protectiveness , but I didn’t. I glanced at her clothes, her purse, one of them had leopard print on them, I can’t remember which one. After a few moments of seeing him so happy, I decided that she was cool enough in my book and for him. I smiled and said, “Hi.” It was a weird feeling realizing that Kevin loved other people. It sounds crazy, I know, but in a little girl’s mind, when you feel like a princess in your role model’s world you genuinely believe you are the only princess in that world.
That weird feeling grew into a beautiful one as the night went on. Kevin got up from the table and picked me up, spun me around in a circle just like old times and hugged me like there was no tomorrow. Okay, I was still a princess, I was loved. Kevin still loved me. Kevin sat back down next to Becca and as we all talked and laughed I chewed on this new feeling I had. I was no longer a hissing mama cat when it came to protecting just Kevin. I was now a hissing feral mama cat when it came to protecting his happiness, his heart. She made him happy. I just wanted him to be this happy always. So, I decided, if he was happy with Becca, I was happy with Becca and that was that.
The next year or so after that night I started getting into my own trouble. I had found a method to break away from my sheltered life. I started sneaking out. I was desperately trying to figure out who I was and where I fit in this world, but those memories are for another day. One night, Kevin had called me and told me to meet him at Bicentennial Park. It was a park near my development. I performed my typical ninja routine of sneaking out of the house and walked to the park. I was already grounded for sneaking out another night. Getting caught again so soon would be catastrophic, but it was for Kevin. He sounded upset on the phone, so I was worried.
When I got there, he was pacing near his car and smoking a cigarette. He was holding a bottle of whiskey in his hand. I walked up and he grabbed me, pulled me in and wouldn’t let go. He started to shake as he held me. Was he crying!? Kevin, the strongest, coolest guy in my world was crying!? “Kevin, what’s wrong!?” I asked him. He held on a bit longer then as he let go he wiped away his tears and composed himself. “Hey Taw-shina, I’m sorry, I just needed to talk. I am freaking out right now and my mind is making me crazy. I had to get it out.” He said as he took a swig from the bottle of Tull Moore Dew.
What was happening right now? Why would he call me? What could I possibly do to help him? He was my hero, my role model and he was crying! How do I help him!? What do I say? I grabbed him again, gave him another hug and as I pulled away I snatched the whisky bottle out of his hand. “Give me that,” I said and took a swig. I lit my own cigarette and took a deep drag, put on my brave face for him and said, “What’s going on Kev.? Talk to me.” “Becca is pregnant.” He said to me in a quiet voice.
Wow! What the hell do I say to that!? I was about 15/16 years old, Kevin was about 19. He was invincible to me and could do anything, but even I knew he wasn’t ready to be a father! Kevin saw my shocked face and started pacing again. I listened as he vented and told me how he felt. He was mortified. It was the first time I ever saw real fear in his face. I had no idea what to say? Luckily I had had some practice at being the oldest sibling at this point, guiding and encouraging my little sister and brother. So, I dug deep and gave him a pep talk. After a few hours of talking, he seemed calmer; I didn’t know if it was from my words or the whiskey, but either way, he wasn’t pacing or crying anymore. It was almost morning, so we started to collect ourselves to leave.
I looked at him and said, “You’re my hero Kev. You have always been my hero. You can do this, I know you can. You’ve got this.” He popped out his sly grin and squinted his eyes a bit, “Heroes are for the weak cuz. Be your own hero.” I made a throaty grunt, then gave him back my own version of a sly grin and said, “YOU be YOUR own hero then cuz.” He laughed, gave me a soft punch on my arm, hugged me one more time and got into his car.
I walked home thinking about what just happened. Kevin was going to be a Dad! Kevin cried in my arms! My mind was spinning. A lot of things were going to change. My hero became human that night. His fear and his tears made him mortal to me. My idolatry transformed into an unconditional, protective love that night. He was and would always be my hero, but I had to be my own hero now. I understood that. Even our heroes break and need someone to pick them up when they fall. I would be there for him if he fell. Kevin, I won’t let you fall…and if you fall, I will catch you. I promise…
To be continued….
Sending you all love and light,
Part 4- Family ….. coming soon!
**A special thank you to Becca for the pictures in this entry. Thank you all for the pictures and helping me to keep his memory alive.**