There aren't very many times in your life when you are changed forever in just a few hours. Getting married. Giving birth. Saying goodbye to someone you love. In March I had to say goodbye to my grandpa. It was sad and profound and a celebration of 92 years of life, and I miss him. Last weekend I had to say goodbye to one of my oldest friends. He was 43. With a one year old. And a new wife. And aging parents who have no other children. It was one of the most intense weekends of my life. Intense because Scott was way too young to die and leave so many behind, and intense because of the closeness I felt to my oldest friends who made the journey with me.
I went to kindergarten with Scott. That was back in the day before public kindergarten, and since we didn't go to the same elementary school, I didn't see him again until 8th grade team English. There must have been about 90 of us in a big lecture room, and we were seated alphabetically all year. Because of that, we sat in the front right: Scott's best friend, then him, then me. Honestly I don't remember doing any work in that class, but we must have. We sure had a good time up there at the right front though. Scott was in the band, a trombone player, and because of the fun he was having, I joined marching band with him when we moved to Roseburg High School our sophomore year. I played in the drum line, mallet instruments mostly, and we had some fun those three years. My fondest memories are our band trips to Disneyland, Expo '86 in Vancouver, B.C., and Hawaii. Scott and I ran in a close knit group of 15 or so who tp'd each other's houses, watched hours of movies on VHS in Harry's basement, hosted birthday parties for each other, ate dinner before prom together at my parents' house, and hung out in the band room to "practice" as much as possible. We transitioned to young adulthood together. Had our first real relationships. Earned our drivers' licenses. Tested our freedom. Baby stepped into independence. Scott was with me every step of the way. He had a gorgeous 67 Mustang. Maroon. Loud and fast. I'll never forget how he flew over the speed bumps in the high school parking lot in that thing. Or how he was a shoulder to cry on when I got my heart broken. Or how he planted our yard with forks. And for sale signs. And mannequins from a department store dumpster. I only saw him a few times in college and a few times in adulthood, but thanks to facebook, we have been keeping up with each others' lives the last several years. He messaged me to let me know he was getting married and had a baby on the way. He friended me from his baby's facebook account, so I could watch her grow from a distance. My one regret is that he and I will never have the chance to reconnect like the others of us did last weekend to see him off.
Our journey began early Saturday morning. One friend came up from nearly the California border. The group grew in Roseburg. I met them in Salem. We picked up others in Beaverton and Vancouver. We were a caravan of two large white vehicles, 80's music cranked, stopping at nearly every Starbucks on the way to Seattle. It was as if we had never been apart from each other. Conversation flowed. Memories blossomed. Laughter ensued. And we cried. A lot. To be with people who know me and my history after all this time was intense to say the least. As I shivered before the service, I was teased about my clammy nervousness. I had forgotten that little quirk about myself. They hadn't. And they recognized it. And teased me about it. We talked about band and teachers, other friends who weren't with us, trips and highjinx. We toasted Scott with a micro brew bearing his last name.We hugged and said "I love you". We ate together, stayed up late reminscing and looking at old photos in a gorgeous hotel together. We remembered Scott. Together.
During Scott's service, the eulogy was given in pieces by friends from different eras of his life. Two of whom I've known since kindergarten and first grade. The minister talked about how we live our lives in segments, and they don't often cross each other. My friends and I talked about how true this is. We shared the childhood and teenage segments deeply. Our paths haven't crossed much in the adult segment. Until now. And we will be forever changed because of Scott and the 36 hours for which he brought us back together.