My parents called last night to let me know one of the guys I went to school with - Kindergarten through 8th and high school - passed away this week.
An odd thing. Someone I don't think I had spoken to for at least 20 years. At one time (in grammar school) we were great friends. In a small school with 25 kids in your class, you tended to be friends with everyone and passed through the years together. There was, in that day, not quite the separation that seems to occur now between children and their activities. We did sports or Scouts or 4-H - but not the exclusion of seeing each other at school and participating in each other's lives.
We began to lose touch after high school, that wonderful time when children begin to flex their wings and find their own way. We went different paths - and in a much larger school, different paths means little if any contact. After the great "hurrah" of graduation, things drifted apart even more quickly. The last time I remember seeing him was at about 23, when I went over with another friend to his apartment. After that, the nothing of two busy lives.
And now, suddenly, he's gone.
I'm not quite sure how to process it. There's a vague sort of grief - certainly a sadness for his family - but not the sense you would find of a close friend; after all, one announcement does not make up for 20 years of silence. At the same time he's my age. The hint of mortality nicks at one's mind as the thoughts roil through.
It certainly puts the things of the day - projects that must be completed, deadlines that are "critical" - in perspective. Death is that one great appointment on our calender - unknown to most of us - that we will not miss, yet strangely never blocks itself out on the Outlook calendars of our digital age.
My greatest memory? Being at his house, playing electric football: lining up the players, the quarterback with the cotton football, and then throwing the switch and hearing the horrid "buzz" of the motor and watching the players bounce all over the "field" in what was supposed to be an approximation of a football play.
Requiscat in Pace.