I just heard a name I didn’t expect to ever hear again, because it had been almost 15 years since I last heard it. And in this case it wasn’t good news.
The name was that of a classmate from grade school. His name was Geoff. His kid brother, Danny, was getting married this past weekend. After the rehearsal dinner, Danny and his two brothers and four friends piled into a Jeep CJ5 and went driving around in the boonies in the dark. What they thought was a clearing in the trees turned out to be a 30-foot cliff.
I didn’t really know Danny, because he’s five years younger than me. Geoff was a year younger than me, but we were classmates because our small school in Farmington, Mo., had combined grades. Greg was a couple of years younger than Geoff. I remember his name, and I can picture what he looked like 15 years ago.
Danny had relatively minor injuries. Greg’s hospitalized in St. Louis with serious injuries; the papers aren’t talking about his condition. Geoff died.
I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel. At the time, I considered Geoff a friend, but let’s face it, when you’re 10, a friend is someone who doesn’t make fun of you and that you don’t make fun of either. We’re talking a level of sophistication just slightly higher than letting each other play with your toys. I went over to his house a couple of times and I think he came over a couple of times. I sure couldn’t tell you when.
Geoff and I were in a combined fifth-sixth grade in 1986 and 1987. In 1987-88, I was in a combined seventh-eighth class. My family moved from Farmington to St. Louis in 1988, and I never wanted to look back. I’d had it with that town. I wasn’t on good terms with many people my age when I left. I honestly don’t remember where Geoff and I stood.
I’ve been back maybe a half-dozen times since. Our paths never crossed again.
But it’s always sad to see a life cut short, especially when it’s someone you knew and someone so close to your own age.
Who’s to say where the wind will take you
Who’s to say what it is will break you
I don’t know
Where the wind will blow
Who’s to know when the time has come around
I don’t want to see you cry
I know that this is not goodbye –U2