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Four Years from Home
Larry Enright
Growing up, Harry was always the shining star of the family, the model child, the one you would name if you either were trying to think of kids who were holy, or who were brown-nosing little punks who deserved to get beat up on the playground for making it hard on everyone else. He was the one God, and Grandma Ryan, had called to the priesthood.

I never understood why, but his path changed in seventh grade and he chose not to enter the seminary, not to honor his promise to Grandma Ryan on her deathbed, and eventually, not to be a Catholic anymore. It was a big change for all of us, going from living with someone on the road to heaven to enduring the unsettling life of a boy on an express train to hell. This went on throughout high school and when Harry left for school for his freshman year at college, he almost left without saying goodbye. I remember to this day the last thing he said to Mom and Dad: "Don’t worry about me. I'll see you later. I love you." And that was that. He was gone.

For four years, Harry never came home and no one went to visit him. He rarely wrote, never called, and invariably found a job there over the breaks and summer vacations. His letters were overly formal, typed, report card-like messages - “Got all As, very happy with classes, people are great, miss everyone…” Even I realized they were emotionless and not like Harry at all. He had completed the transformation into someone so completely different that he was unrecognizable as Harry to any of us. No one spoke of him at the dinner table or wondered aloud how he was really doing or why he had changed. His picture disappeared from the living room mantle. It was as if he had ceased to exist, had never existed, that the shining star had in fact been but a passing comet lost in time and memory. It hurt Mom and Dad a lot, so much that even I realized it, and I’m fairly insensitive.

But it was Christmas 1972, Harry’s senior year, and he was coming home.
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