276 N. El Camino Real, #184
Oceanside CA 92058


(760) 298-8146
(760) 216-1353








Remembering Jimmy

Jimmy and I met in 2nd grade in Oceanside CA and became fast friends. I think the teacher sat us alphabetically and our last names were close in the alphabet. We lived a couple of miles apart so we couldn't play after school, but we were best buddies Monday through Friday.

In 3rd or 4th grade, Jimmy and I were Big on firemen, fire trucks, firemen's uniforms, helmets and axes. Although there did not appear to be any official program at least at our school, we discovered there was a position known as "Fire Marshal" and even "Junior Fire Marshal." That's the one Jimmy and I aspired to if we could only figure out how to get there. Astronauts had not been invented yet, so Junior Fire Marshall was our life's dream.

Jim found out first. His house was near the main city fire department station by city hall and he walked to it one weekend. The firemen gave him a tour and sat him up on the fire truck, ending the tour by giving him a one-size-fits-all metal ring that officially identified him as a Junior Fire Marshal. Really, it said "Jr. Fire Marshal" right on the ring so it had to be official. It had to have been made in Japan - which was a sign of cheap manufacturing in the 1950's, and it had not come from a Cracker Jacks' box, which any civilian could have had and I would have gladly accepted. I wanted that ring - or one like it - enough to kill for it. Fortunately, his friendship was worth more to me that the ring or I might have bumped him off. But … possession of that ring could have been a close second. Jimmy and ring on his finger could not have looked any more heroic had he worn an oversized fireman's helmet to school. What a dashing figure he cut as a Junior Fire Marshal. You could almost see the wind in his face and a white silk scarf trailing in the breeze behind him.

Jim showed an aptitude for science and did well in school. He was always thin and fast. In high school he became a cross country runner; he had that sort of lean runner's build. But his most dominant features were the dark circles around his eyes - possibly hereditary - that were present from childhood. Dark, haunting eyes like two black eyes that had begun to heal. As children, we don't notice features like that. As children, we mostly notice how others treat us. If people like us and treat us kindly, then we're friends.

Then at 19, home from his first year at college, Jim hung himself from the pipes in the basement of his parents' house, where they found him, not leaving a note about what was keeping him awake and lonely, sitting up on the side of his bed at night. Or about what grinding insecurity locked him into the belief nothing was ever going to get better and that he wasn't worth the wait to find out.

By his single act of surrender, Jim left his parents, his sister and friends sitting up on the sides of their beds at night, suffering in the loss and we were hungry to understand. But that clarity would never come. For himself, Jim froze his unresolved situation in time so for himself and others, it would never change, never be repaired.

Rest in peace, Jim.

Steve Stewart Seminars | 276 N. El Casino Real #184 | Oceanside CA 92058 | 760-298-8146/Direct 760-216-1353/Cell |