A couple of weeks ago, I was going to write about Aaron.
Aaron left us on July 25, 1999 at the age of 17. He was a deep thinker from a broken family and one night when he was drowning in those deep thoughts, he ended his own life.
The shock ripped through the town. His mother said Aaron was passionate about everything he did, everything he believed.
“Sometimes it would drive you nuts,” she told me at the time, adding that his passion was also something she greatly admired.
He had become dark and negative. She figured it was something he was going through.
“I thought he’d work it out. He always did,” she said.
Aaron could often be seen with his posse of friends, including his younger brother, Miles.
After the death of his brother, Miles began drifting away. He got into drugs, which naturally led to petty crime and more drugs — a terrible spiral.
He spent most of his time on a skateboard. When Dracut built a skateboard park three years ago, I asked Miles to sample it.
“It’s lousy,” he said.
I asked him if his dislike had anything to do with the myriad list of rules that were imposed on the skaters. Mandatory helmets. (Miles never wore one.)
“No. It’s the way it’s set up. Everything is just squeezed in,” Miles said. “Obviously built by somebody who doesn’t skate.”
I asked him to design the perfect skateboard park and he said he’d get back to me. He never did.
Years ago, when he was just a chubby little tyke, Miles sang in the Junior Choir at my church. I was the choir director. I remember picking him up at his house on Saturday mornings. He was a happy little boy who loved being with his brother and his cousins.
He sang way out of tune but he sang with all his heart. He couldn’t find his note, but that never stopped him from trying.
I lost touch with Miles over the years. I saw him occasionally in downtown Lowell. We’d say hello. “How you doing?” “Not bad.” “How’s your mom?” “She’s OK.” I saw him once and he was with a group of scurvy-looking characters. I remember thinking how he didn’t really fit in with them. He was with them but it didn’t seem like he was part of them.
His uncle said he was trying hard to kick his addiction. It is believed that heroin was his drug of choice. The undertow of addiction starts with pain — physical or mental. You take the drugs to relieve the pain. Soon, the drug itself is inflicting the pain. More drugs. More pain.
Miles was in a halfway house on the North Shore the last anybody heard from him. On Sunday, July 26, almost 10 years to the day after Aaron took his own life, Miles was found dead, the victim of an overdose of drugs. Whether it was accidental or deliberate, nobody will every know. He was 24.
The family is left groping in the dark for answers. What could have been done to stop this? What could have been said? What of the cousins who loved him, or his mother, who has now lost her two only children? What do you say? I’m sorry for your loss? There are no words. There is no comfort. None at all.
Dennis Shaughnessey’s e-mail dshaughnessey@lowell sun.com.