My Beloved Daughter,
Linda’s first visit from foster care happened while our group was playing D&D on the screened front porch of our mobile home. She rode from the mobile home that Mark and his wife lived in on Mark’s four-wheeler. She was in good health and spirit and the cross that she wore around her neck was quite an attention-getter, let me tell you. She had been placed with a Christian family and they had taken her to church regularly, where she had surrendered her life to God.
Michael took an immediate interest in her. And she took an immediate liking to him.
That fall saw her returning home for visits a few times before she was finally released to return to Mark and Mary permanently. It was good to have another familiar face in the group, although I was dismayed to find that her attraction for Michael was growing.
I admit to having a bit of jealousy, given that I had (often without even admitting it to myself) had a crush on her for a while. But I was also puzzled by the fact that he seemed to be returning her interests, all the while keeping her at just enough arm’s length to frustrate her. As my cousin did not go to church, she wasn’t going after leaving her foster family, either. The “back-sliding” had begun.
To add to the chaos, Mark was killed in a car wreck on his way home from Poplar Bluff in November of 1995. That funeral, for a man whose two sons were under five years old, was miserable. It was the first of only two times that I ever remember seeing your Grandpa Chuck weep.
By this point, we had all joined Michael and Jeremy in their drinking parties and the night of the wreck, the group took Linda, who was inconsolable over Mark’s death, to Blue Hole—a creek on HH highway—to get drunk.
Though I had, by now, been intoxicated, I didn’t join them for this “party,” as I had a touch of the flu.
That night, I sat and thought greatly about all the changes that had happened to us that summer. I had a close-knit group of friends that was falling apart and I was seeing people of my own generation leave this world. I saw a friend who purported to be gay leading on a girl that I had known longer than him. I felt guilty for feeling jealousy toward them but also felt guilty for introducing her to this man who almost seemed to take a perverse pleasure from watching her leave her faith and declare her love for him.
Two weeks later, Eric and I discussed the issue and both concluded that we had to remove Michael from the group. We somberly told him that we were not happy about the things that had gone on in our circle of friends since his arrival and advised him that we wanted nothing further to do with him.
And then, we set about repairing the damages that had been done.