By Jason S. Sullivan, 06-10-20
School was finally over. Summer! Next year, we’d be seniors in high school. It should have been the best summer of our lives.
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I felt empty as I left the hospital. I don’t remember much after that, including the funeral a few days later. It was either complications from mono (mononucleosis) or the early stages of leukemia. Whichever it was, no one saw it coming.
When you’re young, you feel like you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. None of us thought about death at that age. But, on June 2, 2000, Scott Davis passed away at the age of 17. I was a pallbearer at his funeral. He was my best friend. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years.
I only knew Scott for a couple of years before he passed away. Our time together was short, but I’ll never forget it.
Our love of music
I don’t remember exactly how we met — we must have had a class together in school. We bonded over our love of music. We liked a few of the same bands, but the biggest one for us was Metallica. We’d often listen to Metallica at each other’s houses, in our cars — anytime we got together. “Fade to Black” by Metallica makes me think of Scott, especially this verse.
Metallica – Fade to Black
“Life it seems to fade away
Drifting further every day
Getting lost within myself
Nothing matters no one else…”
Scott played the guitar. I (sort of) played the drums. We decided to start a band. Unfortunately, neither of us cared much for our bass player. He was all we could find, though, and he invited himself to join us.
Even so, we were a band. We called ourselves Some Assembly Required. Don’t look for our greatest hits album on Spotify. We never made it that far. In fact, it was more of a jam band. We didn’t write any songs or anything, and just messed around. But it was fun while it lasted. We broke up and fizzled out, as many bands do, but mostly because none of us were any good.
I felt like Scott’s family adopted me. They always welcomed me into their home with open arms.
I loved his parents, especially his mom. I always called her Mrs. Davis, and for some reason, my southern accent came out when I said her name. I could be honest with her. She would ask me a question, and I gave her an honest answer. I couldn’t even muster a little white lie — she was so nice and understanding — I couldn’t do it.
At Scott’s funeral, his sister, Erin, put her arms around me and said through happy-tears, “Scott adored you.” I’ll never forget that. It’s a sweet memory, and something I’ve carried with me all these years.
The Parks Mall incident
My favorite story with Scott involves what I refer to as the Parks Mall incident. This was so funny. The Parks Mall, as it was then, and as it probably is now, is a place for teenagers to hang out. Scott and I were all the Parks Mall, doing what guys do: looking for girls. Not that we were brave enough to talk to them, but that’s another story.
We ran into two guys who looked like brothers. You know how it is. One of us looked at them funny, or one of them looked at us. There were some looks and light banter. Nothing serious.
We ran into them again later by the restrooms. Scott was using the payphone — yes, a payphone — and was talking to his mom. I’m standing there minding my own business waiting for Scott to finish. One of these guys from before walked by and flipped my hat from underneath, knocking it off my head. (Guys sometimes do this to each other, at least back then. It’s annoying and insulting — and juvenile.) He laughed and kept walking.
I lost it. I picked up my hat and held it in a clenched fist. I started yelling and walking after him. I threw down some of my best cussin’ and swearin’, telling him off and calling him filthy names. It caused quite the scene. People were staring in disbelief.
Luckily, the guy kept walking. Luckily for me, I mean. He could have beaten the crap out of me. He was a husky brute somewhere around twice my size. We never saw him again, so I must have rattled his bones pretty good. That’s what I tell myself anyway.
I turned around and started walking back to Scott. The short cord of the payphone was nearly choking him. He was doubled over and laughing so hard — there were tears in his eyes! His mom apparently heard the commotion over the phone. I heard Scott trying to explain it through bouts of laughter, “Oh…nothing…some guy walked by and was yelling…”
Scott had this look on his face — a huge smile of admiration, mixed with shock and pure bliss. He couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it either; it hadn’t sunk in yet. The whole thing was so funny! I don’t know if I would have had the guts to do that if Scott hadn’t been there. I’ll never forget that.
That was the nature of our relationship: laughter and good times. I felt like I could be myself around him. I had his back, he had mine, and we were close.
Visiting his grave
I’ve only visited his grave a few times. After his death, I was too distraught. In the mixture of emotions that followed — and later graduating from high school and moving on — I regrettably forgot where he was buried. I lost touch with his family and the mutual friends we had. I didn’t know how to find him. Even if I did, would I have the courage to visit?
Upon realizing that the 20th anniversary was coming soon, I had to visit him. Thankfully, someone on Find-A-Grave had posted the details. I now knew the name of the cemetery, the address, and the section he was in. (Seriously, if you have details about someone’s life, death, or gravesite, post it on findagrave.com or ancestry.com. You never know who will need it!)
When I found his grave a few weeks ago, I felt a wave of emotions. It was joy, nostalgia, closure, pride, and content.
While I don’t visit his grave as often as I should, I’ll never forget Scott. (And now that I know where it is, I plan to visit much more often!) He was an important part of my life.
What’s most startling is that he’s been gone longer than he was alive (20 years / 17 years.) It’s a reminder that our time here can be up at any moment. Tomorrow — even five minutes from now — isn’t guaranteed. The most impactful lesson I learned from Scott is to live like there’s no tomorrow.
To Scott — I think of you often. We’ll meet again, brother.
In memory of Scott Eric Davis
January 20, 1983 – June 2, 2000