I found out yesterday that another member of my high school graduating class has passed away. He was only 53, and he leaves behind a wife and three children.
My high school class was not large; and over the nearly 36 years since we graduated, too many of us have been called home. The first passing occurred roughly six years after we graduated; the latest occurred last week.
In almost every case, some natural cause was the reason for a way-too-early passing, but that really misses the point: A life with so much potential and with so many memories still to be made is over.
What made the most recent death so eerie for me was that my classmate had been on my mind for a few days; and while thinking about him, I also had thoughts of people passing in their sleep. Yes, that’s how he died.
Of course, it’s been social media that brought many of us back together. Many of us who attended a southern California high school have remained in that part of the country. You’ll find a few of us in other Western states, but only a few of us are in other parts of the country. Perhaps because I’m one of those who is many miles away that I feel these losses so powerfully. Perhaps it’s also because I’m an only child.
I recognize the St. Francis High School Class of 1985 is not unique; every high school class deals with untimely death. But the men who have passed are equivalent to my brothers. Over four years of high school, we learned together, fought together, prayed together. Yes, we also mercilessly made fun of each other. But as we’ve reconnected, we’ve found so many reasons to now share those small and big moments in life — our children graduating, getting married, having kids of their own; our career moves; our marriages and divorces and more.
There is now one fewer person to share something with, and that hurts.
Rest well, George. We lost track of each other far too soon, but your passing really came too soon. Say a good word for us.