I was introduced to death when I was just a boy by my two year old neighbor, Timmy. Timmy was a strapping tow head toddler with lots of curiosity. I am sure Timmy never intended for me to see death at the age of nine. I can still remember Timmy running around his back yard, his blue eyes sparkling in the sun. He would laugh and giggle with his dad in chase, pretending not to catch him and then grabbing him up with a big tickle and a rub on his chubby belly with whiskered chin. No daddy, no Timmy would giggle and then ask for more.
Then one hot summer day when Timmy's dad was away Timmy could not be found. We all looked and yelled and checked all the neighbor's yards and houses. Have you seen Timmy? Timmy's missing everyone would say and another neighbor helped to look that day. Timmy's dad came home and the police were called and they all searched all over again.
Timmy's dad was scared and Timmy's mom was frantic and then someone, I can't remember who, found little Timmy Roebuck floating in the irrigation ditch behind my home. I was there when they pulled him out all wet and blue. The ambulance came and they tried to make him breathe and then my mom was crying and said. "Timmy is dead". I didn't understand death and I wasn't sure what it meant but I cried too. Timmy's gone to live with God they said.
They put Timmy's tiny body in a tiny casket in the house next to mine. My mom asked me if I wanted to say goodbye to Timmy and I was afraid to say no. We walked next door hand in hand. Timmy's dad was stern and Timmy's mom was crying.
My mom walked across the room to say goodbye but I was afraid to follow because I did not know what I would see. My mom said, "Come on and say goodbye."
Timmy's dad said, "Yes please, Timmy would like that."
I edged across the hard wood floor and I shut my eyes and did not want to look but my mom said, "Open your eyes and say goodbye, it will be alright." I opened my eyes and looked at Timmy. He lay quiet and he looked peaceful and he looked alright. I did not know what to say so I stared at him and then reached to feel his hair. It was blond and soft and felt alright so I put my hand on his chubby cheek to feel his skin.
But Timmy's cheek wasn't soft and warm and didn't feel alright.
It was cold and hard and felt like stone. Timmy startled my fingers and etched my mind when he introduced me to the stone cold feel of death when I was only nine.