The following letter fell out of an old high school yearbook.

Downers Grove, Illinois road outside the Tivoli

To the boy in English class:

I imagine you were shocked when you saw it on the news. I’m glad I couldn’t see your face, I hope you never go through anything like that again.

I wish we had gotten to know one another better, but there’s nothing to be done about that now. Maybe my whole life could’ve been different, but we just ran in different circles, we always did, you know that. And it’s not like there was some major crossroads I came to and made the wrong choice. That’s not how life works. I made many, many decisions – a number of them good, but a majority of them bad. Or at least they are in retrospect – that’s another thing, isn’t it? At the time I always (well, nearly always) thought I was making the right decision, looking back it’s clear I didn’t. Plus, a whole lot of other people made a whole lot of decisions and those decisions met up with my decisions and led to the outcome that it did.

I thought I had found love. I thought I could get clean and make it work. I thought I had more time.

Thank you for being so kind – I didn’t do anything special. You were a nice kid and didn’t deserve to be bullied like that. That kid was a jerk. So remember me that way – sitting in front of you, long blonde hair (which I once caught you smelling), youthful eyes and smile. I got messed up in a world I didn’t belong in or understand. Or maybe I did, I don’t know. That body they found, naked, defiled and full of track marks – that wasn’t me. I left this world long before that. Remember me well, will you?