Back in 2011, I wrote a post which invoked the memory of my friend Ken Bissett. This weekend, I read that Ken's biological mother, who had sworn not to try to track him down, recently found out that her son had been killed in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 back in 1988.
I went to high school with Ken, who was two years my senior. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Ken was a great guy- just the fact that he would associate with students two grades below him is an indicator that he wasn't a typical cliquish high schooler. He was an honors student with the academic bona fides to get into Cornell University, and his artistic skills earned him the moniker "Ken the Pen". Ken's "tags" on the stage crew locker were so inspired, neither the faculty nor subsequent production crews ever painted over them. Ken was a skinny high schooler, but he possessed an incongruously deep voice which would have made a radio announcer proud.
The last time I saw Ken alive was on a visit to my older brother at Cornell University. Ken, who lived in the same dorm, heard that I had been planning a visit, so he dropped by. He told me that he had jumped through hoops to get a transfer to Syracuse University so he could study abroad in England. In the course of our conversation about his upcoming semester, he was practically glowing with excitement.
Ken's funeral, the first time I "buried" a peer, was a surreal experience. I remember looking around at my friends, some of whom I hadn't seen since they graduated, and thinking about how bleak we all looked in our dark suits. The fact that it occurred during Christmas break, ordinarily a happy time of year, only compounded the bleak mood. Ken was an only child, his mother (I hadn't known that he had been adopted until that day) was disconsolate. We all "toughed" our way through the ceremony, but I could tell that it was the first big "mortality trip" we'd experienced.
I don't know if Carol King-Eckersley will ever read this blog post, but several "Raw Story" commenters have suggested that I try to get in touch with her. I think I will begin by e-mailing the BBC a letter of introduction. The fact that, with his death, two mothers (and a father) were robbed of their only child compounds the tragedy of the world's loss of Ken.
Mrs King-Eckersley, about the son you never knew... he was well-loved by his adoptive parents and well-liked by his peers. He was smart, talented, and good-natured- an all-around solid guy. Thank you for bringing him into the world, he made it a better place for those of us who knew him during his all too brief life.