For only the 3rd or 4th time in my life, someone I had spent substantial amounts of time has died. It happened about a week ago, extremely unexpectedly. I’ll call him DC, and he was a former high school teacher of mine and a friend of the family.
In a lot of ways, it’s not terribly different from ending a friendship, which I have substantially more experience with. Lots of experience with. After high school I lost touch with virtually everyone, after college lost touch with some of my best friends, etc. He’s just not really in my life anymore and we won’t talk to each other anymore.
But it’s a bit different from that this time, in a way that wasn’t true when my great-grandmother passed away or when a girl I knew in elementary school and middle school was shot and killed. My great-grandmother was beloved by many, but it’d been many years since she was very actively involved in the family. And my classmate was killed before she was old enough to actively contribute to the community.
But DC was a high school teacher, and was active both in the teacher’s union as well as a respected and liked teacher. After a fashion. In any case, if not well-liked he was at least capable and had a strong personality that many people deeply appreciated…provided they could be amused by a pointless and overly intellectual argument. Certainly I and many other students who had trouble fitting in or connecting with other teachers found him to be a refreshing breath of pompous lightening-rod.
And I suppose that’s what different this time from in previous experiences. With friendships left to wither on the vine or my grandmother or my classmate, it didn’t feel like the community–a community I considered myself part of, at least–had lost a key, active member. But this time it has.