How Beau, Lee, The Bomb, & Me came to be...

 

 

This book is about hope. It’s about hanging on. Its aim is to tell the kids (and remind their bludgeoned loved ones) that this tough time is just a blip.

 

The Teen Suicides grew increasingly personal to me as I became familiar with the profile of the kids who were taking their lives that September.

I had been writing a different book, but stopped to begin this one when it seemed like every news story was another heartbreaking article about teen suicides. As the kid's reasons were reported, I realized why they sounded familiar. A close family member had almost been one of September's Children. We were lucky that we were spared. The pain his mom felt was crippling; her selfless dedication to her son's recovery gave the lie to her ceaseless guilt, as with all the September's Moms-and Dads. The unendurable, unwarranted, unending guilt... She broke my heart and I longed to do something loving, if useless, for her and even more for the moms who weren't spared.  I didn't know how to do anything that wasn't irrelevant...

Historically, I was in good company.

 

Frank Baum wrote for love, too. His sister-in-law had lost her baby daughter, Dorothy, at 5 months old, and ‘she took on so’ that he began to rack his brain to find something to give her something to ease her grief, or at least distract her mind. So he wrote a story for her in which her little daughter didn’t die; instead, she was a big girl of nine who had  gone 'over the rainbow', to have adventures, that her grieving mother could read and share in. This act of empathy and compassion stirred me and does to this day; that he had the will and the wit to make a world that could be ruled, in defiance of fate, by a huge and ardent love... 

 

 

As for my story, I spent time as both Rusty & Leo in my youth; I was Rusty in high school, angry and fat-shamed and shunned, and then upon (very) early graduation, I went to community college, & became social, like Leonie, but in such the wrong way...

It was there I met the ‘real’ Beau; I had just turned 17, he was studying to be a nurse; we became best buds and inseparable. Always my treasured friend, he steered me though many bad times, wise beyond his years. He was older than me & graduated nurses training the year he turned twenty-one. Ultimately he moved to a larger, less homophobic town and was free to openly be true to his nature.  We sent postcards but it was the days of expensive long distance calls... I heard from friends he was in love & I was so glad.  Eventually we lost touch (long before cell phones and the internet).

I learned he died in the first decade of the AIDS epidemic. It was my great honor to know him.

 

He was the one who made things different: he was my best friend and self-proclaimed 'first fan' and the person who could make me laugh harder than anyone.

 

I promised him someday I would tell our story.

 

So here it is, Scottie. Told you I would. Love you forever…

 

"You will never age for me, nor fade, nor die..."

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