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The Boy He Was

Last week, a friend from high school passed away.

Although it wasn’t completely unexpected, the news still shook me when I received word during dinner.

I had watched Chuck battle cancer from afar, through Facebook posts his wife wrote and tagged him in.

As I processed the fact that he was gone, my mind began to sift through memories.

Despite all of the negative press that Facebook has received the past few weeks, I am grateful for the platform that has allowed me to connect with so many friends from my childhood, including Chuck.

When we first became “friends” on Facebook, he and I “chatted” for a short while, catching each other up on the past twenty-plus years.

He had been a gifted athlete in high school – point guard for our basketball team and quarterback for the football team.  If I’m not mistaken, he also played baseball.  When you go to a small school, kids play every sport available to them.

He had gone to college after high school and ultimately fulfilled his dream of becoming a doctor.  He’d always been one of the smartest kids I’d ever known in school – the person who made academics look easy.

As I read tributes that people posted after Chuck’s passing, I wondered about what it was that would define how I would remember him.

Over and over again, my mind kept going back to a long conversation we had when I was probably a senior.  He was a year behind.  It must have been lunchtime, because I know that I wouldn’t have skipped a class.

Our high school was housed in a large, almost plantation-like house that had a gym and lunchroom built on.  It had two sets of wooden stairs on opposite sides of the main hallway.  We sat on one set of stairs . . . not the one leading up to the girls’ restroom.

It was there that he poured out his heart to me about a person he cared a lot about.  What I remember about that conversation was his sincerity and humbleness, often rare things given teenage flightiness.  I don’t know how Chuck was around other people, but I remember him being tenderhearted and all-or-nothing.

So now, when I read of how many people’s lives he touched, as a doctor and a friend, I think back to when I knew him as a boy, and I nod my head and think to myself, yeah, that doesn’t surprise me one little bit.  It’s who he was from the beginning.

Even though I’ve seen pictures of Chuck with his white doctor coat, looking all grown up, as a man in his forties should, I’ll always remember him as a boy, sitting on those steps deep in conversation or dribbling a ball down the court to the applause of those watching.

One Response

  1. what a sweet tribute to your friend.

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