I look at the calendar, see it is April 28th, and just like that I remember sitting in Cathy Mulligan’s AP Calculus / OSU Math classroom, first period after lunch, on a Friday afternoon in the spring. Worried about whatever it is an eighteen year old worries about at that point in life. Prom? Graduation? I’m probably playing euchre under the table with Brian, Brian and Felicity. And then Chrissie is outside the classroom door. And a few minutes later, crying coming from the hallway. And then “Someone tell Scott.”
And that moment, twenty years ago today, was when my eighteen year old self learned the hard lesson that we (the young) are not invincible. Twenty years and that memory, those moments, are as clear in my mind today as if it happened yesterday.
I remember going to the office and calling mom to give permission for me to leave school early that day. I remember going to Becky’s house with Lisa and Tricia where we told stories about our friend and tried to remember if his middle name was Joe or James. I remember going to his house and sitting there for what felt like days. I remember finally breaking down at the funeral home. And the first time I touched a dead body. And carrying the casket. The little rose appliqué that they had me put on my lapel. The drive to the cemetery and where at the top of the hill you could see back for miles and it was all headlights for the procession. And finally laying my friend, one of my best, to rest at a time when we should have been celebrating the end of high school, not the end of a life cut short.
But I also remember all the good times. Hundreds if not thousands of soccer games. SAY at Smith Park. Indoor at The Field. Select games for that crappy Hamilton pickup team. High school games as adversaries but only on the field. A lifetime of friendship that started at the soccer fields but spread out. Cruising BK. Installing a car alarm on my old beater in my garage in sub freezing temperatures. Hooking my dad’s old stereo speaker up in your hatchback so you’d have a subwoofer. Going to the movie theater on the weekends. Or to Dave’s Game Room. Easter Things and New Year’s Eves with your family. And Lord knows all the stupid stuff that need not be mentioned.
I miss my friend. But I’m glad to have known him and to have been able to call him my friend, even if only for that short time.
I’d drink a Zima in your honor but I don’t think they even make that stuff anymore.
Thanks for the memories.