By Scott Ryan
As I work to find my classmates, I occasionally uncover bad news. As much as I want to hear that everyone is doing great, there are a few from our class who are no longer with us. So far, our class has experienced five deaths that I know of–and, sadly, there are probably one or two more that I don’t know about yet. One person died before our ten-year reunion, so most everyone knew about her. Another kept a blog about her ailment in the years before she died in 2010–she was a wife and mother, and many people followed her writings online.
Two of the three others I found the hard way: Looking for any sign of them online and seeing their names pop up in an obituary column. But even then, I’m not certain I’ve got the right person. That’s the hard part–trying to find a friend or relative who can assure me that I’ve got the right person. Sadly, I was correct in both cases–but I felt badly for the person I contacted, because I unwittingly stirred up that person’s emotions. One person said they had been friends with that classmate since high school–she was gracious about it and I tried to be sensitive about the situation. In the other case, there were enough details in the obituary, including her picture, so I didn’t need to look any further.
The fifth classmate was someone whom I didn’t know, and news of his death (also before our ten-year reunion) was passed along to me by another classmate. But that doesn’t make it any less sad–he was still someone’s friend, someone’s son, etc. In fact, I write this just days after experiencing a death in my own family. While it was difficult, my relative’s death was preceded by a lengthy illness and the fact that I made the 700-mile trip to see her one last time earlier this year.
Unfortunately, this list of classmates will only grow as time goes on–and it’s the one list I don’t want to look at.
*About this blog: Scott is a 1988 graduate of Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, Va. and is blogging about his experience ahead of his 25th high school reunion in 2013. You can contact Scott at 248-945-9950 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “The Reunion Project” in the subject line.