My inspiration for Grayson Baxter died a year ago and I’m not sorry for him.

On my Instagram account, I have developed the habit of sharing my “behind the scenes” thoughts and inspirations for characters, stories, how I think, all of it.

My character Grayson Baxter was inspired by a real situation that eerily came to life in an odd way a year after I wrote the story. So today on that anniversary, I thought I would share this briefly.

Let’s call him Mike.

Mike’s mother was someone I met when I was 19 and in University. It was amazing to meet her and I realized that when you sit down and talk to someone for 2 hours just like that, that’s special. I met her kids and one of them was Mike.

Mike was smart and engaging but what I didn’t realize was that he was cunning, even at that age. Eventually he got into drugs. That was the first time I heard of something called “Special K” because up until that point, it was a cereal. But he was into bodybuilding, raves, where he met people, wanting to get bigger and live that kind of life, blow off college…He lived the quintessential existence of a spoiled brat who crashed cars and had his mother call me at 3 in the morning to help her pick him up.

She was so mad that I was actually scared for him and of her.

But then Mike met the wrong people who somehow wanted him hurt or worse especially when he got caught driving under the influence and opening his mouth meant the difference between being in an orange jumpsuit and walking around his own house going to his own bathroom.

Rehab was on the table. After going through a time when he was on this streak of self-destruction because he had every opportunity handed to him but still couldn’t be content or productive everything came to a head.

I told Mike that he was too damn young to be this hopeless. Next thing I heard, he was headed to rehab.

My parents helped him through rehab. It helped that my mom was a nurse admin at the hospital. He became a part of the family and eventually moved into a halfway house because he had made enough progress to earn that privilege. I was proud of him but now I wonder if it wasn’t all an act…

Like I said, he was cunning. But was he that strategic?

Mike seemed to have turned the corner and moved on with things. For a while no one was worried and that kind of relief didn’t do unappreciated. But my father saw the downward turn far before I did.

Here’s how it played out: Every time he got a great job, an opportunity no one else would have been able to get because they didn’t have the connections to these prominent, renowned business people (if I mentioned the names, you would nod and balk because these people are high level and global brands), he would leave because they didn’t “appreciate” him and what he could do, for his contributions…he was just persecuted to being a damn excellent employee.

Every. Time.

I don’t know about you but no one who hired me gave two shits about appreciating me. This was a job. I was an employee. End of story. Am I right?! So that registered on my dad WTF meter from way back.

Then Mike got hurt and couldn’t work in that physically taxing industry. He had surgery and had to find a different path. But he had done it before, hadn’t he?

I heard he was doing well in tech classes and was passing his classes with flying colors. I wasn’t too surprises because he had been pretty smart. What I later realized that passing with flying colors was code for he had graduated not only to using heroin but was earning his PhD in becoming a dealer.

Mike thought he could do it this time. He thought he could relive his past but at a different level that would make him king of the smack hill right under his mother’s nose. But the funny thing about a drug like heroin is that it will make you believe you are in control of it. That you can take a little more, and a little more, and then a little more and you’d be fine.

That drug left Mike cold and grey in the early morning. The initial story was that an unchecked infection went bad. The truth was a lot more sinister and when it was confirmed, I just nodded and shut down a little.

I was angry for a bit but being mad at a dead man is the definition of futility and I have better ways to waste my time. Now I am fully aware that he chose to waste his life in this way because it was his calling, I suppose. When I came to that and other realizations, I was over it.

So, out of respect for his mother, my dear friend, I will acknowledge this, the first anniversary of his passing.

She is a mother who lost a child and that can’t be overlooked.

But I have decided that this is the last year I will initiate the sentiment. In a world where people are running from their homes trying to find a safe place to just breathe much less live, my energies are better spent willing the world to open its arms and minds a bit wider while I try to do the same.

So, Mike, just an FYI, you’re dead, I’m not. It’s done.