By David Michael Newstead.
Kevin was a friend of my mom’s when I was growing up. I don’t remember many details about him. I was too young to. But there are certain parts I can’t forget either. Kevin had a convertible. Kevin took us all sailing. Kevin was pretty cool. Kevin was gay and, before I had any concept of anything, Kevin would die from HIV/AIDS in 1992. It’s strange to think about now, because it was so long ago. I’ve been told that when he was losing weight towards the end I drew Kevin a picture of a pizza thinking that would help. And it did a little I suppose, because it cheered him up. After he died though, years went by before I really asked any questions about Kevin. It hadn’t occur to me to. Then, just after I turned 34, I learned that Kevin had only been 33 when he passed away. As a kid, all adults seem inconceivably older than you are. Now, Kevin didn’t seem old at all. Over the years, I find myself struggling with the same question again and again. What’s left of us once we’re gone? Maybe a few stories among friends. Some photographs. No doubt a pile of bills and paperwork. But do we leave behind something more? Something lasting? I can’t say for sure. The fact is, I’m no closer to an answer now than the day I started wondering. All I know is Kevin Abend-Olsen died a lifetime ago, but I still remember him. For whatever that’s worth.