We became acquainted in the third grade, but he really did not participate in typical school yard activities; plus, we did not share the same teacher. We were just two students doing their thing. It was apparent that Jay had no close friends; actually, none to be honest,
He appeared to be a loner, always siting on a bench in the school yard alone, reading and forever reaching up and brushing (combing) back his thick dark brown hair with his fingers.
In the fifth grade we ended up with the same teacher, and it was obvious that Jay was extremely smart (which was truly an understatement). He was extremely well read, and whenever Mrs. Miller, our teacher, asked for answers to various subjects, Jay was the first to hold up his hand, excited to share his knowledge. It subsequently brought about bullying from male classmates. On one occasion, Jay was walking down the hall with a heap of books tied together with a belt, like about 4 or 5 of them and a group of the school bullies walked past Jay and they began harassing him. Finally, they grabbed his bound books and threw them to each other, knocked off his glasses, then they finally got bored and threw his books on the floor and walked away, laughing.
A few days later I was walking down the hall and the four sixth grade bullies came out of a class and immediately started taunting Jay. Of course, he was not the type to defend himself and upon again seeing this terrible behavior of the bullies, I found the I was now one against four and I was not a coward. I walked up to them and began telling them what cowards they were, which brought about some pushing and subsequent hitting, from them. At this point I pushed Jay out of the way and I was one against four and the fight began; fortunately, they were really cowards and it lasted perhaps two or three minutes. As they walked off, they yelled at Jay and told him that his time was coming; poor Jay turned white from fear. I informed them that they would have go through me; as it turned out, they never again bothered Jay nor myself. Word was that I was tough, ‘yeah you bet’, I was shaking like a leaf, but just self-confident enough to frighten the bullies.
I helped Jay pickup his books and picked up the belt that they had taken, which was a few classrooms away. I assured Jay that this would never happen again. I am sure he thought differently. Jay had shared with me that he was an only child and his parents were older; this I already knew since I had met them on a few occasions. I was pretty certain that they were immigrants.
From that day forward, I opted to be his bodyguard of sorts and we began a friendship, not like a close one, but smiles and a little laughter, of which very little was from Jay. He was simply a very sad kid, with no friends.
The sixth grade came and we did not have the same teacher, but I still sought out Jay when I saw him walking and aways did my best to strike up a conversation; but alas, he never truly engaged.
The end of the school year came, Jay appeared okay and I told him that I’d see him in the upcoming junior high seventh grade in September. I am certain that Jay was scared at the thought.
The day came and I was in 7th grade home room, making up for the summer madness, as we all wanted to share our summer adventures. I looked around the room, and Jay was not there. I walked over to Mrs. Hanson, the teacher, and ask where Jay was and she got very quiet, took me aside and informed me that Jay had committed suicide during the summer.
Today, I look back and am certain of one thing, Jay had one friend for sure,
Me! I will never forget you, Jay.