Part of him died in Iraq. The experience shrunk him. It killed his aura of innocence. It sapped his exuberance. It ended his quest to make the world a better place than it was when he became part of it.
I knew we had lost the best of Adams when he coldly described to me what happened in Samarra—two weeks before he left Iraq, six weeks after his friends were assassinated in Mosul.
Jim Breech, Jonathan Adams, and I were baby boomers, along with eighty percent of the population that lived in Maplewood when it first exploded onto the map—the big snake America has never been able to digest us as we’ve moved from its head to its tail. We were Maplewood’s pride and joy and its unrivaled center of attention. We were children who were older than the neighborhoods that formed us. We were the first generation of Americans who were products of the American Dream, not participants in it. We didn’t have to earn its fruits, we were bestowed upon us.
Adams was still holding the frozen pizza. A wet spot on the back of Christina’s summer dress, where he had held her in his embrace, indicated the pizza was in the process of defrosting.
“Would you like to stay for dinner?” he asked, his face naturally framing a familiar boyish grin. That look had helped successfully clear a path through every difficult situation I ever had the privilege of watching him navigate. He held the pizza up for her to see. Moving the melting frozen pizza from one hand to the other, he wiped his wet palm on his jeans.