Neighborhood mourns the loss of a friend

For the Monitor
Published: 7/27/2019 7:00:13 PM

When graduating from college, some friends and I decided that instead of breaking up the party, we would just continue it and buy houses right down the street from each other. You know, keep the flames of friendship burning. Sounded like a plan.

As we toiled through the early working years of adulthood, trying to get our footing, finally figuring it out somewhat, we decided that Manchester was the place to put down roots. More than us choosing it, the city chose us. It was there, ripe for the picking, flush with potential.

Everything we needed was between the city lines: chance, growth, conversation, madness and a little touch of danger. I liked it. No, I loved it.

I still do.

But it wasn’t so much the downtown that rolled my bone, it was the people I met within it. True characters, each and every one of them, all originals. Weekend barfly’s mostly, like ourselves, I saw such quality within these people when I listened to them speak, heard their tales, watched them work inside and outside the lines. Raw, honest, even seething at times. The women as much as the men, just hiding it better. Stories layered on stories, bursting at the seams with hilarity and craziness, to the outsider, I swallowed it up.

All from the West Side, by luck, I met this group of townies I thought for years were transplants, just like me, and my admiration for them grew deeper each time I ran into them. They were all so connected, so invested in each other. They reminded me of home.

Lives within lives within lives, dating back to grammar school in some cases. Just working Joe’s, moms, single guys and gals, ruffians, part-time musicians, foosers and tough guys. Each one’s past not far behind. A lifetime of friendship, struggle, success, and tragedy.

I saw the pain in the eyes of one of these people this week. He and many others lost a good childhood friend when Jason Barry was shot in an alley off Union Street on July 19. Barry was a longtime Manchurian, a graduate of West High School, an avid disc golfer, someone who struggled with temptation and could talk a blue streak, from what I am told.

“Just a good guy,” his grieving friend told me. “Why would someone shoot Stacks?”

The details of his death are fragmented and brimming with stupidity and wastefulness. But, truly, what does it matter why he was killed, how he was killed or where he was killed? He was killed. He’s gone, never to return. And that’s just rotten.

As I spoke to his friend in his garage about the tragic event, what I saw in his eyes was a combination of confusion, sadness and anger. It hurt to witness. He was in pain. I didn’t personally know Stacks, as Jason was called. But he was everywhere, I was told, always smiling, gregarious, maybe a little hyper, but solid, an all-around good guy. Sure, he had his issues, like the rest of us, but he was working towards a better life.

Until someone decided that his work was through. Shameful.

I write this, not as someone who has lost a friend in such a violent manner, but as someone who understands friendship, that yearning desire to maintain it and deeply fears the loss of it. I’ve seen a few friends of mine lying in a casket, taken by disease or torn up in a car wreck. It’s never easy to look down on a stiff body you knew so well. The conversations you shared come rushing back to you and all you want is one more hang, one more chance to toss the disc, to laugh, to drink and curse.

It’s not going to happen. And that’s what hurts the most.

So, to all the grieving West Siders, my condolences for your loss and my admiration for your passion to keep the flames of friendship burning. Many people don’t have that, a friend to truly mourn. But you do. And Stacks does. And sometimes in death, that’s all you get. And sometimes that’s good enough.

Heal well.

Concord Monitor Office

1 Monitor Drive
Concord,NH 03301


© 2020 Concord Monitor
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy