Reflections of the way things used to be

I received the news earlier today that one of my former high school classmates had passed away on Saturday.

Amy was only 33 and she apparently died suddenly and unexpectedly. Her mother was my freshman English teacher and was the person who somehow awakened a desire I had to be a writer. As part of her class, we had to keep a daily journal and by the end of the year that journal had grown into hundreds of pages. It was cathartic to release whatever mundane thoughts I had into that long gone old green folder and I guess that habit continues on with this blog and the fact that I basically write for a living now (sure, they are technical documents, but it is still considered writing!).

From the moment I saw Amy’s posted obituary (I think I looked long and hard at it on the screen just trying to process it), I began to think back and recall different times I spent with her all that time ago.

I believe I first met Amy briefly in her mother’s classroom in late 1987 or 1988 and but we became friends when I was a senior and she was a freshman in 1990-1991.

Why I still remember this one thing after all these years is beyond me, but in the fall of 1990, I somehow gained access to a garbage bag of stale doughnuts. Being that this was high school and we were all horribly immature, there ended up being a massive doughnut fight and my car was covered in stale glazed doughnuts. Well, it was Amy who let me use a garden hose at her house and helped me spray all of that off of my car so my parents wouldn’t kill me! It’s funny what stands out in your mind when you are looking back.

I had not seen Amy since 1994 or 1995. I lost touch with many people over the years. I don’t know if I did it on purpose out of being young and foolish or if it is just what happens.

On Amy’s Facebook page, there is a picture of the young children that she leaves behind –a son and a daughter that looks a lot like the girl I first met so long ago. I certainly can’t say why these things happen but I certainly know the lesson: Time is fleeting and valuable and we can’t afford to waste even a moment.

From time to time, as I get older, I do wonder if my time suddenly was up – have I done enough for my kids? Who would they grow up to be? Did I leave them with the right lessons? Did they learn from my mistakes? Would they know they were loved?

We need to ask ourselves questions like these every day because we just don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Each day is a gift that is not to be taken for granted.

For some reason, all day my mind has been going back to a poem by the great Edna St. Vincent Millay (my favorite poet). Many people know it because it was read at the funeral of Jackie Kennedy Onassis in 1994. It seems fitting to paste it here to close out this entry about Amy.

Memory of Cape Cod (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

The wind in the ash-tree sounds like surf on the shore at Truro.
I will shut my eyes . . . hush, be still with your silly bleating,
sheep on Shillingstone Hill . . .

They said: Come along! They said: Leave your pebbles on the sand and come along, it’s long after sunset!
The mosquitoes will be thick in the pine-woods along by Long Nook, the wind’s died down!

They said: Leave your pebbles on the sand, and your shells, too, and come along, we’ll find you another beach like the beach at Truro.

Let me listen to wind in the ash . . . it sounds like surf on the