Monday, November 7, 2011

Remembering Nathaniel

I debated whether to share this on the blog. For many of us, fishing is an escape from the harsher realities of life, and that goes for the time we spend checking out fishing blogs. But sometimes the hard truths won't be denied. That's when we realize the deeper significance of fishing: it helps us get through the harsher realities of life.

This is Nathaniel. He was Jeremiah's friend. Last week he took his own life. He was 15 years old.


He was a gawky kid, unpopular, often bullied; his Dad had died a few years ago, and he was dealing with an unstable home life. I was proud that Jeremiah went against popular opinion and became his friend. Nathaniel came to our house several times for long weekends.

Last June he went with us to the Bass lake. He and Jeremiah had a plan: they were going to catch Bluegill and use them as bait for the monster Catfish rumored to be prowling the warm depths. They never caught a Catfish, but they had a good time trying.


Jeremiah is doing OK. He's working to make sense of it all. I suggested he might feel angry at Nathaniel for doing this. He said, "It never occurred to me to be angry at Nathaniel. I'm angry at his decision." I think Jeremiah knows more than I do what Nathaniel had to cope with, and is working to make sense of all of that as much as of what Nathaniel did.

That's something all of us should be working at, for all the kids out there still living on the edge.

Of course, I wish I had been able to do or say something that would have made the difference. It's what we do. But we did what we did, and he did what he did. That's the truth of it.

But there's another truth. For a long afternoon and evening he was at the lake with us, safe, happy, and having fun. Maybe it was a brief escape for him. Maybe it helped get him through a little longer. I don't know.


What I do know is that it was one of those "perfect moments on the water and in life" that I want this blog to be about. I wish it could have made a difference. But then again, I believe it did.

11 comments:

  1. I know you did, Jim. Your love and investment in all of these boy's lives has been an inspiration from here hundreds of miles away. My heartfelt condolences...and my thoughts will be with you in the coming days as I'm sure they'll be hard ones, remembering Nathaniel's life. Beautiful, however short...

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  2. Thanks so much, Erin. Greatly appreciated.

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  3. First time visiting your blog, Jim- picked up a Twitter feed from the Trout Underground, and glad I did. A sad story for sure that makes one wonder how many other kids there are out there like Nathaniel, suffering a lonely, painful existence. No doubt there are many. I hope they're able to find a positive influence in their lives, as Nathaniel found in you.

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  4. Kirk: Thanks for your kind and thoughtful words. Glad you took the time.

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  5. I was just mentioning yesterday to Ann that I'm not one of those people who goes out on the water to solve things. I don't mull and think. I'm one of those people who goes to get away; to forget for a time all the crap that life builds up. And most times, that's simply enough. I'm sure Nathaniel got at least that. a beautifully written piece. You are all in our thoughts and prayers.

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  6. It's a sad day when we lose such a young soul. A loss we all feel. Thanks

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  7. It's so difficult when they leave us at such a young age. Hold on to each other and hope the hole in your chest will fade and his memory will remain.

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  8. Steve and Greg: Thanks for your kind words. Much appreciated.

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  9. this is such a beautiful, beautiful post. i admit it left me in tears.

    "But there's another truth. For a long afternoon and evening he was at the lake with us, safe, happy, and having fun." i feel like that's all we can *ever* hold on to, whoever we are-- long afternoons, laughter-filled evenings, brief hours in which everything, inexplicably, feels all right.

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  10. laura: Beautiful writing, yourself. There are times you leave me in tears. Thanks.

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  11. laura: Just so there's no misunderstanding, it's your perception, deep beyond your years, and your artist's soul, that leave me in tears. Thanks again, dear Daughter.

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