Ever since I moved to Appleton at the age of four, I had a friend named Charlie. Charlie and I were best friends. Charlie lived down the street and around the corner. It was perfect. I can remember so many times doing things with him when I was younger. But in sixth grade Charlie’s family decided they were going to move away. It was only going to be a twenty-minute drive, but that just wasn’t good enough for us. We said that we would still be friends and see each other.
Well the day came and Charlie moved away. I couldn’t believe it. It was very hard for me to deal with this at my young age. What was I supposed to do now that my best friend lived twenty minutes away? I couldn’t just go over to his house whenever I wanted to anymore. It was really different for me. He had always been right there, but things changed.
Within the first week of Charlie moving away, I was at his new house. Things seemed different though. He was still my best friend except it wasn’t the same as before. He was meeting new friends and so was I. Eventually time passed and I began to see less and less of Charlie. Weeks and months would pass before I saw him. Eventually it became a once a year thing. It was always his birthday party that would bring us back together. Finally that ended too. It wasn’t that we didn’t like each other, but that we really didn’t know each other anymore. He had a whole new group of friends.
Every once and a while I would hear stuff from a girl who still kept in touch with Charlie. More often than not, it usually sounded as if he was not doing too good. I had heard that his parents were getting a divorce and his mom had turned gay. Then I heard that his mom had gotten cancer. I couldn’t believe how life could go so wrong for him. He was the nicest kid you ever could have met in your life.
When I was a junior in high school my friends and I went to a 16+ dance club in Appleton. While we were there I saw a familiar face. I couldn’t really put a name to the face, but I knew that I knew him. Eventually he came up to me. He said my name and I looked at him. I had no clue what this person’s name was. Then he asked if I remembered him. Still I could not remember his name, and so he told me he was Charlie. This was the first time I had seen in about two years. We talked for a little bit, not long and then I moved on. It had been so long that I just didn’t know what to say. It seemed as if he was a stranger. After this day I never saw Charlie again.
Then about a year later it happened. It was just a regular day. I got up and got ready for school. I went to classes and went out for lunch. When I came back there was talk of a car accident with some kids from Kaukanau. This is where Charlie had moved to so many years before. By the end of the school day there were announcements saying some sports events against Kaukauna had been canceled due to some kind of tragedy. So I finished the rest of my day at school and then I went to baseball practice.
When I came home I can remember my mom asking if I had heard what happened in Kaukauna? I said yeah, but as she asked I was looking at a copy of the paper. Right on the front page it read “Tragedy” in big bold letters. There where four pictures with names listed below. As I looked I realized that my friend was one of the kids in the car. Reading the article I realized that he had died in that car accident. I couldn’t believe it. What had happened?
I did not know how to react. I had not seen him in so long, but he was still my friend. It came as a big suprise to me. All of a sudden he was gone forever. I never got a chance to say goodbye.
It was really hard to understand why this happened. Charlie had always been a part of my family. There are so many times I remember sharing with him. There was a time when he and I went to stay at my grandma’s house in Madison for a few days. He was like a grandson to my grandma. She even came up for his funeral. Charlie and I had also been in Cub Scouts together. We would always work on our badges together. For one of them we had to make cookies. We made the cookies and afterward we licked all of the utensils that we had used and got dough all over ourselves. My mom still has pictures of it. My parents always looked at Charlie as their son. His family thought the same of me. Then there were the times when we would go ice skating, it just so happened that the Park and Rec. Department would always make an ice rink right across the street from his house. There are just so many times and things I can remember about the friendship we shared when we were younger.
Charlie died about a month before graduation. Some students from his school finished all of his work for the rest of the year and served all the detentions that he had to serve. Charlie did graduate from high school.
When I went to the funeral it was really packed. There were so many people there. Charlie had become a really popular person. Not a snob, but that person that everybody liked because he is just so nice. I can still remember his dean of students from his high school talking at the funeral. He said that Charlie wasn’t a straight A student, not even a C student, but he was the most kind and caring person you could ever meet. The dean also helped me to realize something. He said that Charlie always smiled to everyone in the halls regardless if he knew them or not. That was the Charlie I knew. That’s when I realized that we really had not changed so much, but that we had forgotten what a special kind of friendship we had had.