A Tragic Loss from the Neighborhood

Rest In Peace - Candles

When I’m feeling nostalgic, I often write blog posts about childhood memories from Philadelphia. I grew up in the Kensington section of the city – right around the corner from Kensington & Allegheny.

Unfortunately, that part of the city has gotten very bad over the years and has a reputation for it’s open air drug trade. Many of the friends I had as a child developed problems with drug addiction. I’ve grown numb to getting news that another one has passed away – often times from an overdose or something drug related.

A little over a year ago I got word that a friend passed away from a heroin overdose. I hadn’t seen this person in a number of years but I was very close with their family. I put on a suit and made the drive out to the Philly Suburbs to attend the services.

While there I sat down and talked with a couple of old friends. It was a relief to see that they not only made it out of Kensington but that they were doing well for themselves. As we talked we asked how other friends were doing. It was a sickening list of “I bumped into them and they drugged out of their minds”, “The last I heard, they were locked up”, and “They overdosed…”

Late last week I saw a post on Facebook that a girl I knew growing up had passed away. The details were vague and I was afraid that it would be another drug related tragedy. I’ve had enough friends die that way that it has kind of become my default thought when I hear someone from the neighborhood is gone.

As it turns out, that wasn’t the case at all. This girl died from a pulmonary embolism following surgery to repair a broken ankle. The last time I saw her was probably 20 years ago but I hear she was doing well for herself. It is a real shame to hear of her passing.

Thinking back, I guess you could say that she was my very first girlfriend. I couldn’t have been more than 8 or 10 years old at the time and her father asked me “So where are you going to take her on a date?” At that age, how do you even answer a question like that? My response was simple – “I’ll take her around the corner because I’m allowed off the block now…

I don’t recall the details but there was a dramatic breakup and I wasn’t invited to her roller skating party – or something to that effect. As time passed we went our separate ways. She started hanging out with the girls from the neighborhood and I spent my time getting into trouble with the boys. Her family was well liked and her parent’s living room was where many of the boys congregated to play Nintendo with her brother.

I won’t tell you that I’m overcome by grief. I stopped knowing the girl years ago when my family moved away – I simply knew of her after that. I’m am saddened at the news though, it is a tragic loss and my condolences go out to her family.

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