Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wrapping My Head Around It

I am writing this entry as a result of something that actually happened over a month ago that still bothers me incredibly. I'm not sure what getting it out here will help, but I have to say it somewhere.

In mid-December, the older brother of a friend of mine, a guy I had gone to high school with, and who had really been a friend of mine himself, was found dead in his apartment. I never heard if they ever did figure out exactly what happened. It was thought that he may have walked in on a burglar.

I cannot wrap my head around death. I received word of what had happened from a mutual friend, and at first I thought it was some sort of sick joke, or horrid mistake. I was at work, and I simply sat down in shock. I couldn't cry. I couldn't do anything but stare. I didn't know what to think, because it was so hard for me to get myself to comprehend that he was gone. I think the fact that I cannot wrap my head around the idea of someone dying may help to explain the next thing I am about to say.

I am the girl who never cries at funerals. I wouldn't say I've been to a lot of funerals. I've been to a handful. Three of my grandparents have already passed away, and I attended two of their funerals. There are other older relatives, and elderly family friends whose funerals I have attended. I have gone to funerals for people I loved, and people I barely knew, but I've never cried. Never in my life have I had need to attend a funeral for someone my own age. When I attended his funeral, I wept profusely. It's not that we were very close. It had been a good while since we had last spoken. But I just couldn't believe that I was never going to see him again. It wasn't fair. It wasn't right.

When I arrived at the church, the first person I saw was my friend, his younger sister. I was speechless. She hugged me, and I hugged her back, and we both simply cried. There weren't words for it. I sat in the church pew with my mother, and one of my best friends. Around me were many people I didn't know, and some that I did. There were a handful of other kids we had gone to school with. A couple of teachers. The principal. And I cried. I couldn't stand looking at the coffin, and eventually I couldn't see it through the tears. When they rolled it back out at the end of the service, I could not stop the tears. On the way out, there were boards with hundreds of photos of him, and I still couldn't come to terms with the fact that I was never going to see him again.

So for a moment, I just want to talk about him.

I still remember the first time I ever met John, because he made such an impression on me. I thought he was completely nuts. It wasn't until later that I met his younger sister, and we became friends. As you know, I went to private high school. When I first applied, I spent a day with one of the students, attending classes, and getting a tour of the campus.

It was around lunchtime, and John was outside with a group of friends, and a tennis ball. He was a rather intimidating guy at first sight - very tall, with broad shoulders, and long hair. He looked like he belonged more to the football team than to an orchestra. (He was a skilled musician). I was with the girl I was shadowing, and a friend of hers. He came up to the three of us with the tennis ball in his hand, and asked us to help him settle something. He held out the tennis ball, and asked what color it was. The first girl said green. The second said yellow. Being contrary, as always, I said greenish-yellow. He laughed, and threw the ball at the ground saying that no one could agree what color it was. We all scattered as the ball bounced.

Throughout high school, we would see each other occasionally. I remember playing volleyball with him a few times. I hit him in the face with the ball once, and he chased me, picked me up, and held me upside down. After that, we got into the silly habit of poking each other in the forehead instead of saying hello. It was a running joke that he could hold me at arms' length with one finger simply by poking me in the forehead, so soon it became a contest: who could poke the other person first.

I can't remember who had won the last time I saw him.


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