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March 23, 1984


JAMA. 1984;251(12):1551. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340360019008

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On a December night, Gary was shot and killed on the street. It happened during our junior year of college. For nearly 16 years we had been companions and confidantes, passing through childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood together. Each of us had always provided the other a word of encouragement, an available ear, a shoulder to lean on. In school, sports, and play we competed as equals, and as our lives unfolded, our friendship developed with the same equality.

Staring at his body in the funeral home left me bewildered: Where had Gary gone? This had happened just as he and I thought we had begun to untangle some of life's intricacies. I was 20 years old, and the confrontation with mortality left me breathless, robbed of my desire to fight.

I went through the motions of being back in school. Each day I attended classes and meals. But every