I watched him take in his new home. He touched, he smelled, and he listened. Only thing he couldn’t do was see it. He walked along the walls on his right, opening each door and taking in a breath. Finally he opened the last door, smelled it, and smiled. “Is this my room?” he asked eagerly. I nodded. He deserved his own room. He was special.
I can remember that day as clear as water. He rushed out his room, only in jeans, his curly hair in a loose bun that morning. I wondered if I should tell him there was no school that day. I heard the shower run and decided against it. I told him after he’s out. At least I didn’t have to worry about him not getting dressed later on that day. I put his eggs and toast on his plate. Right after, he walked out, a towel was wrapped around his waist and his hair was in a wet messy bun. “Will you ever keep you hair out?!” I yelled out from the kitchen.
“Nope. It’s way too long to keep out, and I look like a girl!” He yelled back from his room.
“How do you know what you look like?” I smugly asked, standing outside his bedroom. I watched him put on clothes, which always surprised me. Leon was blind after all. He dressed in his favorite jean jumper, wrapped it around his waist and put on a white tee. He threw on some boots and looked straight at me. I was taken back, wondering if he could see me. After taking in a few breaths, I began to speak, “You know there is no school today right?”
“I know. I’m going for a walk. I’ll take Sage and my walking stick with me,” he said hopelessly. He sighed and grabbed his stick. I knew Leon was suffering. He can’t do things like other kids his age, mostly like going for a walk without Sage. He went into my room and woke up, the dog, Sage. Minutes later he ate his breakfast and left with Sage. After his leave, I cleaned around the apartment and looked into Leon’s file some more.
Leon was a foster child. He was found at the age of six in abandoned house in the middle of nowhere. He was blind and had heart cancer. He was sick and we didn’t know how long he had been abandoned. Leon was also here illegal, no green card and no parents were ever found. The state presumes them to be dead. An hour later after reading his file twice, Officer Marco called about Leon that day. I remembered his exacted words. “Seems he got into trouble once again, Remy. This time with the church. They called us and we got him in a holding cell downtown. Want me to bring him to you?”
I sighed and answered with, “Yeah that would be good. Thanks, Marco.” I hung up and waited for Leon to get home. Once he walked in and put away everything, he and Sage sat on the couch. I sat next to him. “Leon, what’s the point of getting in trouble?!?” I asked him with concern and anger in my voice.
“I enjoy getting into trouble. I don’t really know why. Some say it’s to get attention, but not for me. I guess I do it for the enjoyment, something I don’t get often. I don’t really know why, but I always have. So I say let the trouble begin and hope for the best consequences,” he whispered, not looking into my eyes.
I took a deep breath that day and began to speak, “I’m doing the best I can to find you a home, Leon. Why are you making this difficult?” I asked him carefully.
“They don’t want me, they never do! All because I’m smart but sick and can’t do as much as other kids, doesn’t mean anything really. I just don’t see the point!” he half yelled, half whispered.
I always wanted to take back that conversation. Mostly the reason is because Leon walked out that day. He was missing for almost two weeks. I was feeling worried, scared- but mostly regret. Leon has gotten in trouble so many times before. I don’t know why that day was any different. I guess I was tired with putting up with it all, but he was my responsibility. Regret was my biggest problem when he was missing. Once he was found, my worst emotions decreased, but didn’t go away. When I first heard, they said he was blending inside and out. He had bone damage to his ribs, and his heart cancer increased; increased the chance of dying and making him fatal.
I drove to the hospital, which was an hour away and asked the front desk for his room number. Once I reached his door, I quickly retreated. Seeing him talk to the doctor, I listened in.
“Leon, you have internal and external blending, damaged ribs, and your heart cancer has increased your chances of dying. Whatever you did in the last two weeks was dangerous and killer. What happened, Leon?” I heard the doctor ask him, sounding very concerned.
I was too. I loved Leon like he was my own child. I raised him. Losing him would shatter me. I couldn’t adopt him because of my job as a social worker, but if I could I would have. He’ll be eighteen very soon, and I’m afraid he won’t last very long on his own. I listened in some more.
“Doc, when am I going to die?” I heard him ask, watching him staring into nothing but a blank wall, like he could see it though sadly.
“I don’t know. We could ask your social worker, Remy Moor was it? I know she’s listening to the conversation.” The doctor said loud enough for me to hear.
The doctor walked out Leon’s room. I opened my mouth, put he held up his hand to stop me.
"When do you think his death will be?” he asked.
“I guess when he’s ready to leave. I truly don’t know,” I said warily.
“That’s all I need to hear. He’s all yours to talk to,” said the doctor.
I walked into Leon’s room, rushed to his bed, and held him tight. I cried for what felt like days. He cried as well and held on like his life depended on it. I never wanted to let him go, but I had to that day. I had to know what happened.
“Leon, where were you these last past weeks? Is it my fault you left?” I asked.
“No, it’s not, Remy. I don’t know where I was, but I heard a lot of noises,” he said.
“The ocean, birds, rain, wind, sand, waves crashing on rocks, lighting, thunder, and mostly voices.”
“Voices?” I asked sounding curious and scared.
“Yeah, voices. Their voices. They scar me, Remy. I’m glad their gone, but I can still hear one voice-my own,” he said staring right at me in the eyes.
Leon was scaring me a little that day. I don’t know what he endured those last past weeks he was missing and I didn’t ask after we left the hospital. I only asked about the voices once more and he said they were all gone but his own. I never asked again. Hearing your own voice was normal I guessed, till the storm came rolling right back in our lives.
Officer Marco called one afternoon about Leon in the hospital again but going crazy. Said he was hearing voices. Doctors said he was pulling at his hair and closing his ears. One nurse said he was mad as the Hatter in Alice in Wonderland. They put him to sleep for days. They said if he didn’t get better within the next two weeks, they were sending him to a Mental hospital. That scared me straight to the bones. Leon wouldn’t survive there.
After two more days of medicine, Leon calmed down. We went home a week later but something didn’t seem right. Leon was more quit and seemed more tired than usually. After a week he was somewhat normal, but I couldn’t shake the feeling something was wrong. Then it happened. The day. That day.
It was raining, midnight. I was lightly sleeping till I got the call. Leon Valentines was dead. He caused mayhem on the bridge before he jumped off, into the ocean. The next day, cops searched the house. They found a letter for me from him. I was too afraid to open it. Two weeks later we had his funeral. I was hopeless without him till today.
Today’s his birthday. He would have been eighteen. I visited his grave already. Now I think it’s time I finally read that letter.
Dear Remy Moor,
Thank you for all the years you took care of me. I wouldn’t have been the person I was without you. I wasn’t going to let myself die to the heart cancer. I just felt like it wasn’t my thing. I went out with a banged though. Just the way I liked things. I now you told the doctor I’ll die when I’m ready, well I was ready. I’m sorry if I caused you lots of pain. I didn't mean to. I know you were trying to help. I’m truly sorry. I hope you can move on with your life. Forever and always. These are my last words.
Leon Remy Ty`e Valentines.
His story, his life, his last words. I’ll never forget till I die. I can honestly say. There never be a kid like him. He was a smart mouth at times. He was a troublemaker, but best of all he was mine. Forever and always Leon.