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AmWiser's avatar

What are your childhood memories of the kid who died or got killed?

Asked by AmWiser (14947points) November 11th, 2010

I remember when I was about 6 years old, we lived in a duplex. There was a girl in the adjoining duplex who I played with often. One day she became ill and the next thing I remember my Mom told me she had to go to heaven and would never come out to play with me again. Later, I overheard my parent talking and I learned she died of acute leukaemia (lukemia).

Looking back I could never remember how I felt at the time, because I was so young and didn’t know anything about death.

Can you recall any early memories of the kid who died or was killed? More importantly, how did you react? or feel?

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41 Answers

Jeruba's avatar

There was a kid in the wider neighborhood, a little boy named Frankie. His last name sounded like Ma-LINN, and I never could figure out how it was spelled. He was in the other first grade class when we were both six, so I didn’t really know him. I remember him as being cute and dimpled, with a very round head, dark brown hair, and freckles. He spoke with a lisp and had a kind of swagger when he walked.

One day somebody who knew us both told me that he had died. This friend knew where he lived, and we went to look at his house. We stood on the sidewalk and stared at second floor of the old double-decker for a long time. I don’t know what we thought we’d see, maybe a ghost, maybe an answer to the mystery, but we didn’t see anything, other than, for the briefest moment, a woman’s face behind the curtain at the window.

I was really scared by that because I thought only old people died. My grandmother had died when I was five. If Frankie M. could die, so could I. There was no safety in being a little kid. We weren’t invulnerable, as I had thought. It was a frightening revelation for me. I think I was too scared even to tell my parents about it.

YARNLADY's avatar

When I was 16, my sister’s boyfriend, also age 16, broke his leg while playing neighborhood basket ball. When he went to the doctor to have the cast removed, there was a blood clot in his leg that went straight to his heart and killed him within minutes. His Dad was the minister in our church, and everyone was totally devastated.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

A “twin” cousin of mine, there were three of us born the same year just days apart. She and my other “twin” were playing on the railroad tracks with firecrackers, pennies and rocks. Apparently she ran away too late and got sucked into the wake of the train, was pulled under and tumbled/torn by the traincars. She was 9 years old and the “sweet” one of us three, always the one to cry first, get tired first, was the most physically delicate and the most doted on my our relatives. Our family always says the best and most kind die first.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

The first person/child that I knew of that died was my little sister. I watched it happen, and it was very traumatic. That’s about all there is to say, I think.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

Good answer, @Jeruba. I still feel that way sometimes, that “only old people die”. The trouble is that sometimes I see photos of myself and wonder, “Damn, who’s the old… oh shit, never mind.”

Smashley's avatar

Yeah. Jason sat next to me in my third grade class. I suppose we were eight years old. I had just moved to town and didn’t have any friends but he was nice and we joked around. I remember him telling me a funny story about a kid with dandruff and the piles of flakes that used to accumulate on the desk. I remember that he had a bag of chips in his desk and that I used to sneak a couple from when he wasn’t paying attention.

Then I remember Rocky, the worst kid in my class, calling me one Saturday, saying Jason was in a car accident right by his house and they’d taken him away on an ambulance. This worried me, but Rocky was a crazy kid and I didn’t think much of it. Then Rocky called me that evening and said “Jason’s dead. A drunk driver hit him. His name’s Tim.”

We had no internet (1992), and no newspaper, and no friends in town, so this was really the only information I had. My mom thought about as much of Rocky as I did, but noticed how upset I was and said “You’ll see. On Monday he’ll be there and he’ll be fine.” I remember these lines pretty specifically.

On Monday I was nervous to go to school, even if it might not be true. I walked pretty slow that day. When I got there, Angela was hanging around out by the steps to the portable. I went over to her. “Jason Cave’s dead,” she said.

“I know.”

Blueroses's avatar

In Jr. High, I had a crush on a sweet, shy boy. On the last day before summer break, I finally got the nerve up to pass him a “do you like me? yes/no” note and he handed it back with the “yes” circled and I’ll never forget his smile. I scribbled my phone number and ran.
Never heard from him again.
He died in a car accident that weekend.

JLeslie's avatar

When I was in elementary school one of the boys on my clas had a younger brother who died at age 2 from meningitis.

When I was in high school a best friend of a very good friend of mine (I knew the girl too, but didn’t spend much time with her) was killed on a very dangerous curve while driving. The other driver had a previous dui, maybe two, she was in high school also. She was drunk when she crashed her car into the girl I knew. The story was the other girls father was a cop and that was part of the reason his daughter still had a license. Not sure if he actually had used his influence, but that was the story.

My neighbor when I was in high school shot himself. He was in his late teens at the time.

This one is the most amazing to me, but it is not my story, but a close friends. She was walking home from school, like she did every day, with her friends, one girl and one boy. They were in 5th grade if I remember correctly. The other two stepped off the curb at one point, and my friend saw a car coming fast. She reached out with both hands to pull them back, and only was able to grab the girl, just missing the boy too far ahead of her. Right in front of them the boy was hit and killed. The next day they walked to school. Today, I think parents would be driving their kids from that day forward, or insisting on a crossing guard at that street.

troubleinharlem's avatar

Yeah… by my house there’s a river that runs into Chesapeake Bay, and there were these kids fooling around by the water. One boy fell and hit his head on the dock, blacked out, and sank immediately. His sisters ran to the police station (about 9 country blocks away), but it was too late.
I’m a lifeguard, and I live right up the hill… I didn’t hear a thing. /:

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Growing up in a relatively small town, we pretty much knew everyone. One day, the older sister of a classmate was walking home home from school with a friend, when they were both struck by a car heading west. The driver didn’t see them in the glare of the setting sun. Brenda, the sister, died almost immediately from injuries, while the friend survived.

As children, we had no idea how to comprehend this. I often wonder how Wayne, the classmate and brother of Brenda, dealt with the situation at such a young age. He was considered the nerd of the class and had very few friends. How did it impact the family dynamics? How did he possibly cope with the loss of his plain, yet well beloved older sister? I keep hoping that he will show up at a class reunion and show us all that one can overcome the trageties experienced when one is young and has little support from those outside of the family.

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KatawaGrey's avatar

Just recently a boy I went to school with died. Someone punched him and he overbalanced and smashed his head on the curb. He wasn’t dead instantly. It took him a few days to die.

We weren’t kids at the time of his death but as we’re both in college, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I didn’t know him very well in fact, we hated each other in middle school and ignored each other in high school but it was awful to hear about it. All I could think about was how in middle school, we were both in a lot of advanced classes together and he always said those of us in all these classes were “the creme-de-la-creme, the cream of the crop and creamed corn.” At the time, I thought it was stupid. It seems strange and surreal now.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

When I was 9, there was this amazingly sweet and kind 14 year old girl at our church. She always would play with the younger girls and we all considered her our friend. She was kind of a confidante of mine. One Friday night the youth group went to see the midnight showing of the Narnia movie that was just coming out. She, her older sister, and a friend were riding home together, to the friend’s house where they were spending the night. Well, a huge pickup T-boned them and she was killed instantly. Her older sister and the friend were critically injured, and they spent about 4 months in the hospital and they’re still doing physical therapy, nearly 5 years later.

I try to carry her legacy on, being a “Hannah” for all the younger girls in my church. Everybody needs someone like her.

The 5-year anniversary of that crash is December 9th.

lillycoyote's avatar

I think I was 16, in high school, the first time I ever knew anybody who died. A classmate and friend of ours was killed in a car accident. It was really shocking to everyone. It was sad, of course, but more of a shock, a stunner, than anything else. At that age you just don’t really understand those things, really, I think. The idea that someone our age could actually die was a very difficult thing for us all to “wrap our heads around” as they say.

Blueroses's avatar

Oh, this thread is so sad. Also a bittersweet tribute though, so… well done.


When I was about 8 or so, I went to a picnic that was held at a big park. The picnic was held in late summer, and it was organized annually for Asian families who gathered to socialize and have fun. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I was sitting on the grassy lawn with my parents and siblings, enjoying every minute and watching the activities going on around me. People were playing badminton and volleyball, there were BBQs, and kids running around playing. Adjacent to where we were sitting was another Asian family, and for some reason I was drawn to this very pretty girl who sat with her family, doing the same thing I was, watching everything around her and smiling. I didn’t know who she was, but apparently she was the youngest daughter of my Dad’s business friend. For days after that wonderful Sunday picnic at the park, I thought about her intermittently, then I didn’t think of her again——until about 2 months later——when I heard from my parents that she had died after getting run over by a speeding pick-up truck on a rainy cold October night. I found out that she was with some school friends on a dreary, overcast Saturday evening, and after watching a movie at a cinema, was following her friends as they crossed a street. Her friends had made it to the other side, but she was hit after she tried running to catch up to them. She was dragged several meters before the drunken driver of the truck was stopped.

Upon learning about that girl’s death, I was deeply saddened for a long time. Her memory lives on in my heart today, even though I’m now a grown man. The impact of her death affected me a lot as a child. My memory of that sunny pleasant day with both of us enjoying ourselves as young innocent children, was in stark contrast to the memory of how tragically she died on a dark, cold, and rainy autumn night. I was and still is saddened by it.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

I could’ve been that kid once.

One Halloween I was out trick-or-treating with my friend Ray. (We weren’t ‘little kids’, but we were probably in junior high, I think.) We were walking up the hill one street over from where he lived, and a car came up behind us, real slow. We hadn’t heard it. I don’t recall why we were distracted or didn’t hear, but we were on a quiet part of the road with no houses nearby, and it was dark. (The car had his lights off.)

For whatever reason, the driver nosed up behind us, and pushed me down with the bumper. That’s all… just pushed me down, then stopped. It was done so finely that it had to be deliberate, and pretty skillfully done. I scrambled to my feet and well off the road, and Ray was watching with this ‘OMG WTF?’ look… the car just picked up speed then and drove off.

Weird. I hadn’t thought about that in decades until just now.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

This was a really GQ. It opened my eyes to something that I never realised before I read these stories.

@Blueroses well said.

SundayKittens's avatar

Everyone has a memory, that’s so interesting…
Patrick is mine. He had cancer, we were about 8 or 9.. Ohhh, it was so sad when he died, as if the whole school mourned together for weeks. We planted a tiny sapling for him, and it’s now a big, strong tree.

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KatawaGrey's avatar

A tribute to those children.

chyna's avatar

Brian. I haven’t thought of him in years. He lived two blocks down from me. We were all 16 years old and he had just got his drivers license. His parents gave him an old mustang for his birthday. A few weeks later, Brian and his best friend were drag racing through town and Brian hit a telephone poll. He died instantly. I was shocked. Kids don’t die. That was my first brush with death. He was a really nice kid.

Cruiser's avatar

In high school a very good dear friend got a brain tumor and I remember watching that painful process he went through and the gradual changes as his life was being taken from him. The worst was he passed while I was away at college and to come home to that empty sad void that he left behind. After all these years later I still miss him.

TexasDude's avatar

I had a friend named Bubba when I was in elementary school. I would spend the night at his house all the time and we would ride dirtbikes and sneak outside and play in this big dirtpile and shoot bb guns and such. He was wild, but a lot of fun. We lost touch after elementary school and I found out in 7th grade that he snuck out of his house one night to ride his dirtbike (just like we had done many times before) and was hit by a truck and killed right in front of his house. I didn’t even get to go to his funeral.

Jude's avatar

Okay, I wasn’t a kid, but, in my early 20’s. Two of my ex boyfriends died the same year. One in January (he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed). The other, I had just broken up with him a year and half before it happened. He was in a freak folk lift accident and was squished to death. That happened in early summer (the same year).

They were so young, and I had just seen them both not long before they passed.

Blueroses's avatar

I feel so much emotion in every response here. I only hope that all of our subjects are beyond caring about it. This question has touched me more than I ever thought it would.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I grew up in a pretty social suburban neighborhood in the 1960’s. My sister’s best friend lived around the corner. She had an older sister who got pregnant, and kept the baby, which was a big scandal back then. The little boy was about two, and was playing out in the side yard with his 15 year old uncle. The uncle stopped playing to talk with some girls walking by, and took his eyes off the kid. The grandmother came out of the house, got in the car to go grocery shopping, and backed the car over her grandson, never suspecting that he was on the driveway instead of the side yard.

It was a very sad funeral.

A girl died in childbirth the summer between our junior and senior year. The summer after graduation, the girl that sat behind me for four years was hit by a car while riding her bike, and was killed. A boy on the swim team was electrocuted while cleaning his uncle’s swimming pool.

JLeslie's avatar

I cannot believe I forgot to tell the story of someone I knew in high school. His cousin’s husband left his wife for another, more distant, cousin in the family, she was in her late teens. Eventually this girl left him and began to date another man. He couldn’t handle it, and came to her apartment one day shot her to death and shot her new boyfriend 4 times; he lived. The girl who was killed, her mom had just left to go back to her country when her daughter was killed, and had to get a special visa, or permission I guess, for another tourist visa to bury her daughter. It was horrible. He actually was not a citizen, but he was not deported he was imprisoned here. He was from Kuwait. I actually have no idea what religion he was, but now I wonder as I write this. I am glad they did not deport him back to his country, he is in prison here for life.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

She wasn’t a friend of mine but in Jr. High then a girl from my classes was struck and killed by a drunk driver. Her mother is the founder of MADD.

faye's avatar

Judy from junior high. The man she had just babysat for raped and murdered her- she was 12. I didn’t even know what rape was. Sad, scary funeral. We had all walked by the sicko’s house every day going to school.

Blueroses's avatar

Oh God @faye . that is.. I don’t even have words.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I was spared the death of friends or acquaintences when I was in school. That was reserved for when I was two years in Vietnam. More than I want to remember now. I thought they were all men. Looking back from 67 now, I can see that all of us were so very, very young. One of the ones who didn’t make it back was Peter Borsay, my best friend from college. I still think about him, especially when I visit the Wall in DC.

PoiPoi's avatar

I was in the third or fifth grade I think. My teacher told me that a kid in a school he once taught in, was in a classroom next door like mine was. The kid was leaning backwards in their chair. The kid leaned way too far, hit the middle of the back of their head on the corner of a desk behind them. The kid fell on the floor unconscious, then was dead.

downtide's avatar

When I was 14, a girl I vaguely knew but rarely spoke to, who was in her senior year, died very suddenly. No-one in school knew why or how. It was only later that my mum told me she’d committed suicide. It shocked me, because I respected and looked up to this girl.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I’m the odd one out.. none of my classmates or neighborhood kids ever died. In fact, it wasn’t until I was 14 that someone I knew died. However, I was a kid in SF at the time that Kevin Collins was kidnapped. Within a year after his kidnapping, when I was 8, we moved and our new place was 2 blocks from where Kevin was kidnapped.

I was a very aware kid and I’ve always been really sensitive, even empathic at times. I walked past the spot Kevin was taken many, many times over the years we lived in the neighborhood. Kevin’s presence, his energy, loomed large, for a block in all directions. I could.. feel him, and yet I knew in my gut that he was dead. I even felt like I could see it, see the guy who took him. I know it seems silly because I didn’t know him, but I spent so much time thinking about Kevin, feeling like I could feel him over the years, and it always brought up a lot of sad and tragic emotions, so I just feel a kind of special connection with him. I know that probably sounds kind of dumb, but there it is.

Anyway, I’m still haunted by poor Kevin Collins. I’ve passed that spot in recent years and it still feels as cold and eerie as it did when I was a kid.

SuperMouse's avatar

The first child I knew who died was named Clay. He was a friend and my dad taught with his mom. At first we heard he had a brain tumor, then not too long after that we saw him with a funny haircut, but he seemed pretty normal. A couple of months later we heard he had died. I was about 10. During my time in high school no fewer than five classmates died, mostly in auto accidents. There was one kid who was stuck with a friend in the middle of nowhere and out of boredom climbed an electrical tower. He was seriously burned over like 90% of his body but survived. The next year the same boy was riding in the back of a pick-up truck and was thrown out and killed.

Jeruba's avatar

In fifth grade Heather Bixby came to school crying and couldn’t stop crying all day. Naturally the teacher asked her what was wrong. In those innocent days, people didn’t have problems at home, or if they did they were only whispered about and never specified. It was not at all out of order for a teacher to ask a child in front of the class why she was crying.

Heather, the eldest of five, told us that her baby sister had died that morning. “And I was the last one to feed her,” she wailed.

The class fell into shocked silence.

At length someone asked Heather what the baby had died of. I think she said “fluid in her throat,” a condition I’d never heard of, but the way she said it, it sounded like it might have been “food in her throat.” In other words, I thought, she had choked on something (the proverbial “went down the wrong lane” that my mother was always warning about), and if Heather was the last to feed her, she must have been blaming herself.

It never seemed quite safe to play with Heather after that. I always watched her warily.

Another one I never discussed with my parents.

SundayKittens's avatar

Oh man, @Jeruba. That’s intense.

MissAusten's avatar


When I was in high school, a kid my best friend knew from church was killed in a car accident. I knew him by sight but hadn’t talked to him. My friend didn’t want to go to the viewing alone, so I said I’d go with her. It was pretty terrible.

I knew a girl in middle school whose little brother died. He was three or four. I don’t remember what illness he had, but they never took him to a doctor because their religion didn’t allow it. They just prayed, and it didn’t work.

Shortly after high school, a guy I’d graduated with was killed in a motorcycle accident. I didn’t know him really well, but well enough to go to the funeral. Several other guys we’d gone to school with were the casket bearers, and that was a very sad thing to see. The boy’s father had also died in a motorcycle accident only a year before, and I remember thinking how awful it was for the boy’s mom and sister.

One of the pallbearers from that funeral was also in a motorcycle accident a few years later. He survived, but is a quadriplegic.

I didn’t know anyone who died when I was a little kid, but the story of Adam Walsh, who was the same age as me but didn’t live anywhere near us, was big in the news. My mom used him as an example any time we went to the mall or a big store. For a long time I thought about him a lot, and his abduction never seemed real.

There was also the case of a girl from my neighborhood who died at the local pool. She was older than me, so I never went to school with her or knew who she was. She had climbed the high dive but passed out from a chlorine leak. She fell backwards off the ladder to the cement and died. I thought about that every time I climbed that ladder to jump off the high dive, but now I wonder if it actually happened or was one of those stories kids pass around just to scare each other.

linguaphile's avatar

When I was 7 my mother moved us to Florida from Alabama and I went to a new school. My placement tests put me in a class of older kids, and one boy in that class was 3 years older than me and clearly didn’t like me being there. It was awkward and even then, I knew I wasn’t going to fit in and wasn’t sure how to act. One day I arrived to school and found out it was Mark’s birthday. In Alabama, at my old school, birthdays were huge—everyone would bring a gift, there would be cake, balloons, ice cream, streamers- a big celebration, so when I found out it was Mark’s birthday, I was devastated. I didn’t have a gift for him! I look around, saw my favorite stuffed dog, and after thinking for a minute, I wrapped it up in a paper towel, and approached this big, tall older kid and gave him my dog. That day I learned what cruelty meant when he led everyone in a laugh fest and threw my dog down onto a desk.
4 years later he shot himself in the face in a gun accident. When my mom told me, I remember feeling this huge, empty feeling. I knew I was “supposed” to feel sad, but I didn’t feel grief. I didn’t feel any satisfaction at all, just a vast nothingness. I felt very, very sad for his mom. I still have the dog and still think about both of them from time to time.
Even now, I still wonder about my reaction. In later school years, I lost an acquaintance to a bike accident and a good friend to a drunk driver but nothing ever was like experiencing Mark’s death. I think even Mark deserves a tribute…

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