Holidays: a time to remember

Published 2:38 pm Wednesday, November 28, 2007

By By Adam Prestridge
Not only are the holidays a time of cheer, but also they are a time to look back on those friends and loved ones you have lost through the years.
For me, that list is a long one. Dubbed the "Mouth of the South" by my second grade teacher, you can guess I never met a stranger. Up until this day, I never meet someone I can't chat with.
My wife teases me all the time because we can't go to the gas station or in the grocery store without me meeting someone new or someone I already know.
This Thanksgiving I began thinking about those many friends that I had who have suffered premature deaths. Some were by accidents, others self-inflicted. Either way, I was their friend and now they are gone.
This may seem weird, but each time I've received the news that a friend has perished, a certain something reminds me of that person forever. Whether it's a song, landmark, color or smell, their memory lasts through it.
For instance, my two best friends, Chris and Craig, were killed the summer between my fifth and sixth grade years in school. The brothers admired their stepfather, Ronnie, who was a truck driver, and enjoyed taking trips with him from time-to-time. That foggy, July night was their last trip.
The two were killed when the 18-wheeler their father was driving topped a hill in Tennessee and collided with a log truck that had been involved in an accident only seconds before. The lumber they were hauling and the logs from the other truck crushed the brothers, killing them instantly. Their father survived after receiving extensive injuries in the accident.
My mother broke the news to me following day camp her company used to hold for children of employees. I remember the song, "It must have been love" by Roxette playing on the radio when she told me the devastating news. It has stuck with me since.
It was the beginning of a long list of more than 20 close friends of mine who have died throughout my life. It started nearly 20 years ago and hasn't ended. Just last February, another one of my dear friends, Alana, passed away of an apparent drug overdose.
This past weekend, while home for Thanksgiving, my wife and I watched "Pretty Woman" and the song played at the end of the movie. It reminded me of Chris and Craig and the other friends I have lost and I said a silent prayer for them this holiday season.
This is the first time I've written about Chris and Craig. Their death has stuck in my mind all these years. And I still get choked up as I write about them.
They were true friends; friends I shared so many fun times with. Chris broke his arm on the tree outside my house and Craig had a snapping turtle pinch his finger in my backyard.
I've often wondered what the two would be doing now. One will never know.
I recently saw their mother and Ronnie at my nephew Caleb's baseball game. They now have two more sons. One looks like Chris, the other like Craig.
God does work in mysterious ways.
Adam Prestridge is publisher of The Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123.