Please forgive me while I write this but I need to put it somewhere because it’s haunting me it’s in my thoughts and for the past week I can’t stop thinking about it. About him. I don’t know why but it won’t leave me at all. Thoughts of him won’t get out of my head. It’s been almost 16 years but it seems like yesterday. It kept me awake last night thinking of how I can fix this and why it’s happening now. Please forgive me while I work this out.
His name was Vernon. I can’t remember how we met but it was at high school year 12. He was a tall lanky kid with beautiful brown eyes and a limp. He had been in a car accident when he was child and not only sustained a limp but some damage to his brain. The damage meant that learning was a little more difficult to him but he was no different to you or I. however I think with his limp and his combined learning difficulty meant he was treated differently and despite things not coming easy to him he eventually went on to study at Perth’s performing arts. He wanted to act and he was good at it. Really good.
During high school he would walk me home every day. We would sit on my fence and talk for what seemed like hours. We spoke of his family and although I never met them I felt like I did. They were his world his mother and his brothers. His eyes sparkled and he smiled when he spoke of them. He couldn’t help it. I loved it; that time talking to him. He was funny and sweet. He was sensitive and clever despite his ‘slowness’ to catch on. He would ask me most afternoon’s will you go out with me and every afternoon I would laugh look at his sweet face and say no. Why he would say? Because I don’t like you like that Vernon. Your special to me Vernon but that would be wrong. I want you to be with someone who likes you like that. He would smile and wonder off home. One afternoon he tried to kiss me. Vernon. Don’t do that again. Oh Debbie he said laughing. Vernon I like you a lot but please don’t ruin this. I love our friendship. You make me so happy, I love talking to you and I don’t want a boyfriend I said. You make me so happy he said you don’t make me feel stupid or different. Well I said to him you’re not.
Year 12 came and went and he went off to Perth to study acting. The day he left he gave me a pendent. I have it still. We lost touch as he got caught up in the life of performing arts and all the fun the city brings. It was a year or a little more before I saw him again. It was like we had never been apart. He beamed as he told me had a girlfriend. She was beautiful and clever he said. I was so happy that he was happy.
He went back to Perth and they continued with life as did I and it would be a year before I saw him again. He walked into the office I was working at. It was a busy day. I had people everywhere but his presence made me smile as he stood there. Yet this wasn’t Vernon and as busy I was I could see that but I was busy and I was at work. What could I do? I’m sad he said. Just those words. I looked at him. I should have known the Vernon I knew would never have said that. Yet I remember the exact words I said to him. I’m busy right now Vernon but go stand in the sunshine and I will call you or you call me in a couple of days? Okay he said. He gave me his new number and left. I remember him standing there. Looking different but still I didn’t stop everything and chase him. I never called him and he never called me. And if I was to be honest in that week I forgot I got caught up in life, with my policeman boyfriend of the time, my study and myself.
I was home sick from work when I read it. The funeral of Vernon will be held at St Marys Cathedral. I couldn’t believe it. I called my mother it has to be a mistake right? Yet the picture, the rest in peace notices that went on and on told me it was him. I went not knowing what had happened. I wanted to ask someone but as a friend I should have known why I was there. The cathedral was pact. His new girlfriend who made a eulogy didn’t hold up well but then nobody did. The world had lost an angle; a perfect angle. I didn’t go to the burial I didn’t feel I had the right. I didn’t because as a friend I should have known why. I could see some boys from high school but it wasn’t the time or place to say what happened to him. Why am I here? Why are we putting him into the ground he doesn’t belong there just yet. I left confused but left all the same.
Life went on and he was always there in my thoughts. Typically it was my mother who couldn’t let it go she had loved Vernon as much as I, and had to know. Was it and accident and sudden illness. What had taken him from us, from the family he loved so much?
It seems it was a girl not one but two. The girlfriend he met while in Perth many years ago had fallen pregnant and had a baby. They tried to make it work but for whatever reason it didn’t. A custody battle ensued. Her family wanted her to have full custody. They were fortunate to be able to hire a private lawyer. Vernon could only afford what the state could offer him in the way of legal aid. It dragged on but typically Vernon fought he loved his little girl as I knew he would. He would have made a fantastic father. Yet her family felt they could love her more offer her more. They had more money perhaps they thought what they had meant they could offer her a better life. All that stuff. As it dragged on they fought dirty well what I deem as dirty. They made his limp and his learning difficulty the reason behind why he couldn’t have his child. Why he couldn’t be involved more than once a fortnight and a week of school holidays. A man that had completed had been accepted into a performing art school a man with a heart so big that no church could contain the people who he had touched couldn’t have more than just a few days and weeks with a child that was half him. Half of his whole.
They told him repeatedly in front of a court, a judge and a lawyer that he was stupid. Incapable of looking after his child or even being involved in his child life. That he was damaged. That he was no good. He became embarrassed of his story. He became embarrassed that he wasn’t ‘normal’ whatever the hell that is. They made him feel like he had been a burden to his ex girlfriend and to his family. That he would be a burden to his child. It went on so long he started to believe them and he didn’t want his child to be embarrassed by him. So he did what he felt was best for all involved.
So these last few days weeks I have wondered will they tell her; his child that he did that for her? To save her the burden and embarrassment. Will they tell her he was a beautiful soul? Was winning her affection that important to them? I need to know now as a parent myself does she know the truth about her father? That he was a good man and he was a good father? And I know it’s not my business it’s not my place to tell but if I gave her that locket that pendent that’s important to me would it be important to her? It plagues me and I don’t know what to do because a good friend would known all that and I should have known and may be he wouldn’t have left. Yet even though its not my place a good friend would do this for him right? Make sure half his whole knows how beautiful he was. A good friend would right?