Saturday, February 21, 2009

Life's too short..

This week, someone posted an old school photo on Facebook. The photo must've been over 20 years ago, when I was about 8 years old.

It certainly brought back some memories, especially as most of the class seemed to have picked up on it and exchanged messages and memories.

One thing that I discovered was that two boys from that class have since passed away. One was in the RAF (Royal Air Force) and was apparently killed in action. The other was killed in a car crash not far from our old school.

This really affected me, seeing all of those old faces, full of youthful innocence and hope for the future, and realising that not all of them would get to experience the things we take for granted. They'll never get married, or have kids of their own.

Maybe it gets to you more when it is someone your own age, someone you knew when you were a kid and you suddenly realise how precious life is.

About a year before that photo was taken, another boy in our class died. He had a history of health problems, mostly with his heart and he sadly passed away when he was seven years old.

This was my first experience of death and I still think about it a lot. One day you're playing football in the playground then one of the kids is off school for a few days before you hear that he died in hospital. You don't really understand it, only that he won't be coming back to school.

Our class were allowed to go to the funeral. It was a Catholic school attached to the church so we didn't have far to go from class but one thing that still bugs me to this day is that our class, his class, the friends who saw him everyday had to leave his funeral early to go for swimming lessons at the local pool.

Even now this strikes me as insensitive. I remember we had to sit at the back of the church so that our exit wouldn't disturb the service. Surely it wouldn't have hurt to miss the swimming lesson just this once? After all, it was extraordinary circumstances.

While we were waiting for the bus to take us to the pool, I remember hearing the loudest bang I've ever heard. I couldn't tell you what it was but back then but I remember it made me jump. I thought it was our dearly departed friend showing his displeasure at our premature exit and I felt guilty for abandoning him and also felt resentment at being forced to leave him alone. Maybe even as an 8 year old I thought too much about things!

A couple of years later, we finished Primary school and all went our separate ways, on to various High schools and lost touch (until Facebook).

Almost twenty years had passed when one Saturday morning I went to check the mail at my front door and looking up at me was a face I recognised but couldn't quite place. In my confusion I even thought it was my own picture. On the front page of the local newspaper was an old school photo of the classmate who had died. He was smiling, looking directly at the camera in the old school uniform.

It turns out that the children's hospital where he had died had been involved in an organ harvesting scandal and his parent's had fought a long battle to force the hospital to return his organs. It had come to light many years later and I remember hearing about it on the news but it never crossed my mind that anyone I knew would be affected.

I often think about those old classmates and those years were probably the happiest of my life (until I met my gorgeous Wife obviously!), so I was pretty excited when one of them posted that photo and more people came across it and got in touch. It brought back lots of memories but it also made me realise how far I've come.

I'm sure most are still living in the same area we grew up in, seeing the same faces and going to the same places. I miss it sometimes, but there is so much in this world to discover that I'm also glad I moved on. I'd love to go back one day and show my Wife 'round our way' where I grew up, but a short visit will be enough for me.

You can't live in the past and you owe it to those who fell along the way to live every moment.

No comments:

Post a Comment