I moved to the place I live now when I was in the sixth grade. I didn’t know anyone, and this plastic city was worlds away from the canopy of trees that framed my view of the forever kid’s sky of the place I called home.

I made some new friends in the city. They were my everything, and they whisked me away from turmoil, fear and loneliness on Mongoose bikes, our black concert t-shirts fluttering out behind us as we flew down alleys, asphalt and adolescence.
We were an odd little group. There was a fat kid with glasses and acne, a short smart-ass guy, a scrawny chick, a dork, a tall, skinny brainiac, a nerd-girl, a depressed dude and a cheerleader. We loved each other.
We grew up and became a family. I have never forgotten them, and I will always be indebted to them. They changed me, and will always be part of me. They were my family, and I loved them. I still do.
Today, the leader of our gang died. It was unexpected. It always is. The atheists in our group said, “See, this proves it. There is no God.” The believers spoke of how blessed we were to know him. We are all right. He was a great man. He was smart – really smart – and funny and so, so generous. He adopted us all, and brought us together, and even though we drifted from each other, none of us drifted from him.
Now we are all going to gather together again. I can’t believe he won’t be with us.
I just can’t believe it.