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  • Writer's picturePaul Cotter

Inseparable


black and white closeup view of rocks nestled in a crevice on the beach

I hadn’t thought about my old childhood friend in a long time. It’s been almost 60 years since we last hung out together. Over the years, whenever his name came to mind, I had a sinking feeling that he probably ended up in jail or came to a violent end. 

 

For a few years in grammar school, we were inseparable. We were both named Paul. Our last names both started with the letter C, which meant we were always next to each other in the alphabetical seating order. We even drew comic strips depicting ourselves as a superhero crime-fighting duo: the masked, cape-wearing team of C&C.

 

In sixth grade, everything changed when my friend fell in with a rough gang in his neighborhood. He started smoking at age 11 and did whatever it took to impress the older members of the gang. As his demeanor morphed into something I no longer recognized, our paths quickly grew apart. After our eighth grade graduation, we never saw each other.

 

A few weeks ago, on a sudden impulse, I did an online search to see whatever happened to my old friend. What I found was both sad and incredibly uplifting.

 

I was sorry to learn that Paul died suddenly in 2010 at age 53 in Georgia. But I was heartened to see that his life did not turn out at all like I had feared. He was married, had children and left behind a legacy of love, good humor and compassion. His online obituary was filled with touching comments from family and friends who talked about the positive impact he made on every person he encountered.

 

It’s amazing how a life can turn around completely.  In some cases, it can be a turn for the worse.  In other cases, it can be for the better. And sometimes, in a few remarkable instances, both things can happen in one lifetime.

 

That was the case with my friend Paul ... the true superhero of the C&C duo.





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