This I Believe

willie - san diego, California
Entered on November 29, 2007

I believe holding a grudge is not what it is cracked up to be.

In the summer of 1968, I met a new friend who would become not only a life-long friend, but a big influence in my life. His name was Jimmie O. At the young age of eight years old, he was an accomplished prankster and sick joke teller. He was also one confident and smooth dude with the girls. I, on the other hand, was none of these things. As they say, opposites attract, so we became the best of friends.

I and Jimmie experienced the 60s, our adolescent lives, together running through canyons, playing football in the streets and most of all, collecting baseball cards. During the 70s, our teenage years, we traded those boyhood fancies for riding motorcycles in the canyons, playing football on the gridiron, and most of all, collecting pretty girl’s telephone numbers.

After high school, I joined the military and left behind a person I considered more than a friend…I considered him my homeboy.

A number of years passed since I had seen my best friend. Once I returned home, I learned that he had a substance abuse problem. Jimmie had succumbed to crack cocaine as had many from the neighborhood in the 80s. Most would have abandoned a person in such a sad predicament, but he was my homeboy and I could not leave him in such a state. I learned in the Army not to leave a man behind, and there was no way I was going to let him die on the vine like that.

I fussed, preached, encouraged, begged and everything else I could think of to get Jimmie to release his grip from the scourge of his life. In the end, though, it was he (with the help from a higher power) who volunteered to get the help and treatment he needed to beat his addiction.

Fast forward to the 90s, and Jimmie and I were both doing great. Jimmie had a fantastic job making good money. I was doing the same. We were the best of friends, and both had proven his loyalty to the other. Nothing could possibly break up this duo, but except, you guessed it, a woman.

Jimmie had gotten arrogant with his wealth and by beating his addiction, and now wanted the finer things in life…my girlfriend. He succeeded, but broke up a thirty-year friendship. She eventually left him. Left him broke and addicted to drugs again. I actually took joy from this. I literally hated him for betraying me after all we been through. It was worse than a divorce. We never talked again.

Ten years passed. One day, I ran into a friend who told me Jimmie had died a month earlier in Georgia. What a shock! In an instant, my grudge was gone and grief took its place. I never had the chance to bury the hatchet with my hommie and I regret it so.

I don’t believe in grudges anymore.