Too many gone on too soon

Published 1:06 am Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It’s been sad over the way in my old hometown. In a short time, the community bid farewell to friends gone too soon it seemed.

Some of those who passed lived in Opp. Others called new places home, but a shadow of their time in town lingered with those who knew them.

I heard of each loss and felt shock and sadness like everyone else. First, it was the boy who lived up the street from us. Well actually, he lived up the alley. That was how we got to each other’s backyards, through the alley that ran behind our houses.

He played with my younger brothers and the other neighborhood kids. After they grew up and moved on, many of them remained friends, exchanging hellos now and then from the different places they called home.

He became a successful architect, creating beautiful buildings that are now his legacy. When he died Christmas Day, the town he once lived in and the friends who grew up with him mourned his passing. I, like them, felt it too, the feeling that a life ended too early.

Then I read about the death of a classmate. She was a few years older and one of the girls us younger ones looked up to. I still picture her wearing saddle oxfords with white knee socks, a bright plaid skirt and a button-down collar shirt.

She was one of the popular ones, one of the in-crowd, a cheerleader. She was also the girl who had a smile for everyone and did her best to make people feel comfortable. Now, she too is gone, leaving us to remember her with smiles and sweet memories.

I did not know the young firefighter who passed away, but he was my mother’s across-the-street neighbor. She spoke of how kind he was and how he was willing to help out anyone in the neighborhood. She talked about his young wife and the plans the couple had for the house they were renovating.

His death shook the community to its core, but also brought many kind words about the way this young man lived and how he touched so many people in his short lifetime.

Next it was my sweet friend who once sat behind the welcoming desk at the Opp Chamber of Commerce. Oh the lovely conversations we had when I worked in Opp. I remember her marrying the man she loved beyond words. How happy she was as she started her life with him.

I followed her progress as she struggled to clear her body of disease. I felt the joy when it seemed she moved past illness to restored health. She was a light in this world, giving love and hope and praise to her creator every day of her life. She slipped from life silently, leaving us to feel our loss but to rejoice in having known her.

Finally, my dear friend’s older brother left this world and moved on to the next one. He was my elder by several years and when I was a kid playing at my friend’s house, I thought he was maybe the cutest boy I’d ever seen. Later in life he took up barbering and like all of us, he got older. Still, he had that smile and those sparkling eyes of the boy the girls labeled good looking. He too completed his journey, leaving behind family and friends who feel the sadness of his passing.

As I thought about the losses, the good people to whom Opp bid farewell these past few weeks, I wanted something to express how we feel as we say goodbye. I found these words written by a mostly unknown poet. They spoke to me, to how I feel as I remember the ones who walked with us for a while and moved on so soon.


… You’ll never be forgotten

Your life was but a glance …

Now you’re free to dance

Sullivan Vullo