Saturday, May 15, 2010

Legacy of Pennies. Remembering Gary


Today is the one year anniversary of Gary’s suicide.  But rather than dwelling on how he left us, I’d rather dwell on what he left us with. 


More to come…


You know. I wanted to make this positive and uplifting. I wanted to write, everything’s all okey dokey now. We have our memories and that’s enough and things will all work out in the end. But, perhaps a year isn’t enough time. Perhaps this isn’t the right space to show the under-belly of a horrific event. Perhaps silence is the best gift you can give.

But, I can’t be silent anymore. Gary was gay. A group of kids (mostly Jocks) were very unkind to him. I don’t know much about his home life other than his mother was supportive of him. I know my daughter would come home and tell me about the latest escapade on the bus where the ridicule and torment were getting so bad one time that she stood up and yelled “SHUT UP!!!” and actually physically went to smack a football player upside the head, or wherever she could reach. Now, my daughter is a pacifist, she’s the oldest of five and has played the role of peacemaker her entire life. She doesn’t yell. She doesn’t get mad. She doesn’t like to hurt anyone’s feelings, ever.

The WHY of what happened doesn’t matter. The HOW doesn’t matter. What matters now is honest reflection. In this community tolerance towards homosexuality is pretty much at a zero. I don’t care what religion you are, but from what I understand about Christianity Jesus said, “Love God with all your heart, mind, and might, and love thy neighbor as thyself. On this hangs all the law of the prophets.”

LOVE, not judge, not condemn, not exclude, not preach to, convert, LOVE.


This community is full of churches, a church on every corner. Yet the high-school has one of the highest rates of drug use and pregnancies in the valley, three suicides in almost as many years.

Gary had a smile for every person. The awkward outcast, the shy girl who no-one spoke to, the boy who was smaller and weaker than others…He was KIND.
Since he’s been gone I’ve been finding pennies everywhere, where-ever I go. He used to call himself “King of the Pennies.” People who knew him, loved him. It’d become a tradition for his friends to give pennies to the king of pennies. A standing joke, here’s a handful of worthless change, ha ha. Here’s a down payment for your car, ha ha.

No one knew he kept each and every penny. He saved them to give to a teacher who in turn, gave them in service of the homeless, the hungry.

By itself, a penny isn’t much of anything. A penny is a waste of space. A penny won’t buy you anything.

But whenever I see a penny now, I think of him. I pick it up. I put it away. I don’t know what I’m saving it for. I don’t know that I have as much hope or faith as Gary did, that a few pennies here and there gathered together can make any amount of difference, but God knows…if he left us in this place without him, and there are only these pennies left to remember him by, then, we have to try.


  1. This is beautiful. I think Gary was wise beyond his years. You know what, because you shared this, I'll be remembering Gary too and I didn't even know him :) I'll try to pay it forward too.

  2. I hope that we reach a place where we can look past judgment and see people for who they really are. Gary's story is tragic--and there are far too many stories like it. Thank you for raising compassionate children who would risk their own social standing to befriend and defend someone like Gary.

    I appreciate your honesty and the fact that you chose to discard the need to make this "uplifting." Suicide is not uplifting. Loss is not uplifting. Hopefully we can choose to grow from our experiences rather than cower, but really? It is confusing, it hurts, and there needs to be more of a network in place for kids who are being treated like Gary was. Thanks for being brave enough to tell the truth.

  3. Thank you Chavah, glad to keep Gary's memory alive in you also. It was my hope that writing this would honor him in that way.


    I appreciate you stopping in to share your thoughts and I hope you come back as often as you can to share them!

  4. Hello for everyone that doesn't know i'm Benjamin Huber Melanie's eldest boy. I'd just like to thank everyone who read this and truly understood this. I personlly live by my own motto that I heard some where and loved."Everything happens for a reason." So keep walking fowared but never forget the ones you loved and lost. Nor the ones you hated who are gone.

  5. Hello my dear eldest son,

    Glad to see that you're reading the blog, especially considering you show up here a lot in my writing...which I hope doesn't embarrass you to death, but that's part of a Mother's innate right (it's in the Parenting Rule Book, section six article three, paragraph two: A mother may embarrass her child in any time, at any place for any reason.)

    Anyway, I don't think anyone really "hated" Gary. I think it was more that they did not know how to deal with him, it is easier to ridicule what you don't understand than to accept it. I think that's the case here. I'm fairly certain no one was "maliciously" intending to hurt Gary (could be wrong...maybe I'm giving too much credit to the human side of humanity) but for the most part people just don't know how much negative, hateful words can hurt.