I logged on to Facebook this morning, and was greeted with a flood of “RIP”s and “in memory of”s and “we will miss you”s.
Another Grinnellian from my class has left our side.
They say my class, the class of 2012, is cursed. In the last four years of school, 3 people have tragically passed away, all of them from my class.
This person who just left us was involved in an elevator accident.
Throughout college, our paths crossed several times; never long enough for us to be walking side by side, but enough times for me to have formed a memory of him. My college being a small school, we shared a lot of mutual friends.
The last time we interacted, it was a month before graduation, when he attended a party in our apartment. I found him in a dark space in the kitchen, standing with a small-sized, impressionable Brazilian sophomore, the latter backed up against the fridge. They were both laughing; he was trying to get the sophomore to take shots of Everclear. I tried to intervene — Everclear is 95% alcohol, and tastes incredibly nasty straight — and I knew from past experience that this sophomore falls over his own feet when he drinks. Then that college senior, that instigator, smiled his broad smile, one that looked like his lips would wrap around his face and meet at the back of his head, gave me a wink, and turned his focus back onto that sophomore. I later learned that he managed to coax 3 shots of that nasty into that Brazilian.
I don’t know why I told that story. When I think of him, this memory sticks out in my mind.
I was talking to my friends last night. First group talk since graduation 5 weeks ago. It was an intercontinental call across 4 countries, but it felt like we were in our apartment again, talking about this Grinnellian and that Grinnellian and this job application and that internship.
I think more than anything, the passing of this person shocked me back to reality.
My friends and I always talked about the future — where we want to end up living, what kind of family we want, what our dream job is. And as graduation neared, our paintings of the future became less romantic, our idealistic ambitions were ditched to make way for more practical plans.
And there were so many plans that were made. Plans of traveling, plans of internships, plans of researching graduate schools… So many plans that there was no room, absolutely no space, for such eventualities as, What if I don’t get to carry these plans through?
My friends and I always talked about the future. I have no doubt that this person who passed away talked to his friends, a lot of whom I know, about his plans for the future too. I still have my chance to work hard and see mine through; he has lost his. Graduation was a month ago; we all walked with pride and hope that summer’s day. It’s so weird, so unsettling, to realize that it could all be very suddenly taken away by death’s swift hand.
May he rest in peace.