Henry loved playing guitar. He got his first guitar at about age 10 or 11. It was a 3/4 size acoustic – a gift from his great Uncle John, who is also an avid guitar picker. Once Henry picked up that little guitar, he had found his passion.
He finally began taking lessons at about age 14, but until then, he was self taught. This was the first song he taught himself, at age 11.
For Christmas in 2006, he received his first “real” acoustic guitar – a very nice one. He was absolutely thrilled with it, and he took his guitar with him wherever he went, including the 9 months he spent away in treatment. Whenever you saw Henry as a teenager, his guitar was usually strapped to his back or in his arms, being played. His guitar was – without question – his most cherished possession.
When he was admitted to the hospital, he was without his guitar. We all wondered where it was, but he couldn’t seem to tell us. Finally, just before he died on May 31, we learned from close friends of his that about a week or so before he overdosed, he pawned his guitar – almost certainly to buy drugs. He told several people that of all the low points of his drug abuse, that selling his guitar was the lowest. During he week leading up to his overdose, was apparently extremely depressed by what he’d done. And he was also ashamed. Plus, he missed his guitar. He told people that he couldn’t wait to get it back and that he would never, ever let it go again.
Then he died.
I became somewhat obsessed with finding and retrieving Henry’s guitar. It meant all the world to him, and was the purest expression of who he was. I knew I couldn’t rest until I had his guitar back home with me.
Well, through the extraordinary efforts of people who love me, the guitar was located and it was returned to me, in its soft case, with Henry’s strap and picks and scribbled notes and chewed-on inkpens still stuffed in the pockets.
I cried for a long, long time, cradling Henry’s guitar in my arms and breathing in the scent of my child, which still lingered in the wood.
His guitar is home. I will never let go of it.