Too Close To Home This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   I opened the paper on a typical Friday and immediately flipped to the first section I read every day - the obituaries. It's sad in a way but I need to know if everyone I know is still there in the morning. I open to page A12 and began to scan the briefs, or at least that's what I call them. They are those tiny obituaries in tiny letters that tell the most important facts: name, address, close family, funeral time, and where to send contributions. I look for familiar last names. I don't see any. Then a picture catches my eye. It's a young kid, looks about thirteen. He looks familiar and the name rings a bell but I have gone to so many schools that I can no longer place people.

I check the address: he lived in the city I lived in until I was 14. Then I scan down and find that he went to the same Catholic school I did. He graduated from eighth grade in 1993. I would have graduated in 1994, if I hadn't left half-way through the year. That means that he graduated a year before I did. I thought about it for a minute and then began reading again.

It mentions that he played the trumpet. A light goes off in my head. I remember him. He used to play at all the school functions. Wow, he was so young. I begin to wonder why he died. I scan the top again: Name, Age (he was actually 17), Street Address. Then it says "died Thursday at home from hemophilia-associated AIDS." He had AIDS! This totally shocks me. A few weeks earlier, a friend and I volunteered at an AIDS quilt display and we were discussing what it would be like to know someone with this horrible disease.

Many people asked me if I had known if he was HIV positive when I went to school with him. I said I hadn't. I wish that I had, so I could have been there for him.

Now, I'm just one more person who has known someone who died of AIDS. It's really hard because I hear people at school talking about putting all the people with AIDS on an island far away and I think about all the amazing things that people would miss. They would miss the informative, heartfelt speaking of Pedro Zamora, the voice of Freddy Mercury, and the music of one great kid that I will leave nameless except for all those who heard his trumpet play. c


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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