Every year, millions of teenagers will receive their high school diplomas. June 4, 1987 is the 30th anniversary of my high school graduation, which may as well be an eternity. For most teenagers, it’s their first major milestone. It’s an important stage in our lifetime. We develop life lasting friendships with teachers and classmates. Although I barely remember attending my classes, I am still waiting for the day when I need to use Algebra or my knowledge of dissecting frogs in biology class.
Nonetheless, I will always remember my classmates and teachers. Although my four years passed in the blink of an eye, the memories of attending high school will last forever. Granted, I didn’t know everyone in my class, we did share similar bonds.
For instance, we knew similar people, ate in the same cafeteria, studied in the same library, and even had the same teachers. Since moving from Indy in 1997, I no longer see any of my former classmates. Thankfully, I have reconnected with many of them through Facebook. It’s interesting to see that many of them have become successful parents, coworkers, managers, and community leaders. Some even volunteer their time to our school as a way to give back to the community.
Most of my classmates are either 47 or 48. So I consider us all young with much living to do. Unfortunately, with life, we must also learn to cope with death. I lost a classmate to suicide a few years after graduation. After much personal turmoil and a break up with a girlfriend, he committed suicide. It was traumatic because society had lost a good son, father and friend.
And last year, I lost a classmate to cancer. Although I didn’t know him during our time in high school, he was a popular young man with many friends. He left behind a loving family and many classmates who cared for him.
Recently, a committee of our former classmates had gotten together to plan our 30th reunion. One of the committee members was a man named Eric Kirby. Sadly, he unexpectedly passed away on April 24. Other classmates had mentioned how excited he was about our reunion. It’s almost a cruel joke that he won’t attend our reunion. Somehow, I know his sprit will be present since I don’t think death can keep him away.
I had known Eric from fourth grade. We attended grade school together and then went to high school together. Although I wasn’t a close friend, I can remember him being popular. Even as kids, everyone loved him. After high school, he became a social worker. He was a good man, friend, father, and husband. Some of my other classmates were closer to Eric, but I am glad to have known him.
His death shocked me because he was so young and full of life. Unfortunately, we aren’t promised anything in this life. Other than life and death, anything else we get is just a bonus. It’s been said that a man is measured by the friends he keeps. Eric had the love of many people so this tells me everything about him. I intend to attend my class reunion in June. It will be my first. I am looking forward to seeing my classmates and learning about their successes. I would like to dedicate this column to the Arlington High School class of 1987. I wish for them to have many more years of life.