Today is my birthday and I got the call I have been expecting for a while now. My oldest friend Elijah lost his little brother Yakov sometime earlier today.
I had met Yakov shortly after I had met his brother sometime after December 1988. The kid had energy to burn, always wanting a play fight. He would attack me and I would chuck him into the couch. He always came back for more, a most implacable and inexhaustible adversary. Eventually, Elijah moved out of the house and I didn't see much of Yakov at all after age 8, only briefly to see a film with him, Elijah and his friend Skylar.
Yakov was 14 by the time I had any real contact with him, I went with him, Skylar and Elijah to see the Tragically Hip at the Pacific Colosseum. He was so quiet, introverted almost - it was a big change from the strong-willed ball of energy I knew a few years previously. Life hadn't been particularly easy for him so I assumed it was early teenage lack of self-esteem and figured he'd find himself as time went on. But age 17 rolled up and he seemed he seemed lass certain of himself, more withdrawn and even unable to articulate himself.
Eventually it would become known to his family and to the rest of us that Yakov was an undiagnosed schizophrenic and, as is sadly typical in these cases, in the clutches of a horrible addiction attempting to find a way to make sense of himself and deal with what was going on inside himself.
I'd like to have something happy to reflect upon on this occasion, but I don't. Yakov's life - what became of it - fills me with sadness.