There’s a lovely article by John Spong about his late father in the December 2015 issue of Texas Monthly. I encourage you to read it as it’s a stirring recollection of fatherhood, grief and God.
Spong went to my high school, where he was several years older than me, and I graduated with his brother. His Texas Monthly article, about the way in which we face loss, leads with the story of Mike Smith, a 16 year old killed in a car accident in 1988. The story hit me like a piano falling on my heart. I knew Mike Smith, I remember his death, remember the physical shock of hearing about his accident, can feel even now the losing of my breath at the realization of his passing.
After all these years, I’m not even sure how I knew Mike. Was he in my art class? Did he try out for baseball with me? He was a year behind me, but we had mutual friends, and when I think of him now, I can see his face, his blonde hair, and remember a sweet, quiet kid. But what I remember most is that nine months after Mike’s death, my own best friend would be dead as well.
It’s odd what memory is, and does. I think about my dead friend, Scott, my best high school friend, all the time, but I haven’t thought of Mike in 25 years. I feel guilty about that, but we weren’t really friends, just acquaintances. But being reminded of his death, and of how I forgot all about him, affected me more than I expected. I tell my sons that I don’t like remembering, looking back, seeing old photos. It’s too much a reminder of what has been lost. But thinking of two boys’ deaths twenty-seven years ago forces even me to remember.
That year of high school, when they both passed on, is nothing but the color of gray. Gray in memory, gray in real life. But that can’t be right, can it? Summer in Texas, gray? It doesn’t matter, because that summer doesn’t exist now, only the times in my memory. Which are gray. It seems melodramatic and maudlin, but two boys died, and my memory is all I have left. For now.
Memory is all I have left of my running exploits as well, so I’m glad I have this blog, this knob. I’ve been going back (probably spurred on by the memory of my friends; once you look back, you keep going) and re-reading many of the previous entries. And you know what? They were good, are good.
So I’m going to try to write again, here, in the knob. We’ll see. But it’s part of a larger feeling I’ve had to be less of a consumer, and more of a creator. Give, not just take. Do, not just be.
Also, I’m kind of excited about running again.