I’m no stranger to death.
Over the years I’ve said goodbye to
my Great Grandma, two Grandfathers, my Nana and an Aunt.
Each one hurt in a different way, my Dad’s parents lived long wonderful lives.
My mom’s Father had a wonderful, full life of family, friends and countless achievements but he passed well before his time. And then my Aunt was diagnosed with Cancer. She passed away at the tender age of 60.
As I said, I’m no stranger to death, but this week has been rather humanizing for me.
Three people from my past have popped up in a terrible way.
My Advisor from College passed away from Leukemia. I feel guilty in a way because I’ve always thought he wasn’t the best Advisor but now thinking back, that’s probably since he was stretched way too thin, with teaching, advising and being Head of the Department. He was a bit eccentric and definitely danced to the beat of his own drum but with all said and done, he was a good teacher.
One of my BFFs from 6th Grade lost her father. He passed away in his sleep. I remember him as just having this quiet strength. My family witnessed the day he and my friend converted. My friend was a quiet person, like myself and I just can’t imagine what she must be going through.
But I’d like to solely focus this post on one specific death. Specifically, since this is the first experience I’ve ever had with someone close to my age passing away.
Today there will be a memorial service for one of my childhood friends. Ever since I heard the news, I’ve been thinking a lot about him and our Elementary school days. I feel a bit sheepish writing about his memory. Especially if any of his family members or close friends happen to stumble upon this post. I feel I have no real right to his memory. He and I were not close friends, in fact we haven’t spoken since 7th Grade.
And yet, I still feel this loss. I didn’t know him personally. He lived around the corner from me and we rode on the same school bus for five years. I first met him when my family moved and changed school districts in 3rd Grade. After that he was in every one of my Elementary School classes and most of my Middle School classes. His name was Michael and even though he had a rather tough exterior, he no doubt had a kind soul.
When I heard the news of his untimely death, my first response certainly was not to write a Post dedicated to him. My first response was to gasp and the second being to make a phone call to my mother, we both had a soft spot in our hearts for Michael and I knew she would want to know. After we hung up, I retold memories from Elementary School to Stan, trying to allow him into my questionable pain. I then studied his photograph, the one his family decided to use in the obituary. I looked into the face of this adult man trying to decipher the little boy I had known.
The photo shares no resemblance to the Michael who lives in my memory. The boy I knew was a little chubby, he wore big t-shirts and a bowl haircut from 3rd all the way to 7th. When I knew Michael he would always crack jokes during class. One of his reoccurring ones being Cartman’s famous, “I’m not fat I’m just big boned.”
Another one of his gems occurred during 4th Grade, we had a substitute teacher that day and she was covering Geography. She asked the class if anyone knew where our teacher kept the maps. Michael told her, “I got your maps right here.” That little stunt cost him a trip the Principal’s Office. And although, I’m sure he was trying to be cheeky the maps were actually kept in a cabinet behind his desk.
I think a testament to his kindness occurred one brisk day in late October. Michael warned me that some of the guys he knew were planning to egg the Faux Horse my Dad had bought for us, on Mischief Night.
I think one of my favorite memories of Michael occurred one winter day. It was Art Class and it started to snow. We all looked out the window and Michael just happened to be sitting at my table that day. I said, “Oh, good. They’re little flakes.” Michael turned from the window and asked me what I meant. I told him what my mother had taught me. That when it snows big flakes, the snow doesn’t accumulate (of course I didn’t use that word in 5th Grade 😛 ) But when they’re small, the snow sticks. And that was that. But about three weeks later, it started to snow again. We all looked out the window and this time Michael turned to me and said, “And there small flakes too…”
I don’t know about you but I live inside my head a lot. I’m constantly thinking and philosophizing. There are countless things that remind me of the most obscure people in my life. A friend from 1st Grade loved frogs, my cousin was obsessed with Turtles growing up, our neighbor raised sheep. And whenever I see something like that, I can’t help but think about those random people from the past. And then I wonder sometimes if there’s people out there randomly thinking of me. I don’t like to be thought of in past tense, it’s weird to think that people I once considered to be my best friends are no longer a priority.
So if you’re still reading this, please say a quick prayer to all those people you might have lost touch with. Think about those relationships that have slipped away. They may be needing those kind thoughts and prayers now more than ever.
Thank you for Reading.