I Miss My Boyhood Friend A. T.

Few years back-must have been about five years- one of my high school classmates died. It was kind of shocking, to say the least. You see I had seen A. T. about a year ago prior to his demise.

Parochial Junior High School

He looked healthy, was very gregarious as always and entertaining. We traveled back in time reminiscing about our teenage years and youthful indiscretions.

The news of his demise was devastating because I hadn’t envisioned losing him so soon, especially having reconnected thirty-something years after our high school graduation. At his cousin’s wedding where we reconnected, we tried to fill in the gap of those missing years. He matriculated to the local public university, while I ensconced at the local private college. A. T. could afford the private college because of his family finances yet he chose the public school because it was located in an urban neighborhood. He had married with the union blessed by two boys and a girl. I had married twice and also had a girl and two boys.

I was asked by our classmates to render the eulogy at his wake. His family loved what I had to say about their dad and brother, they requested a repeat at his funeral. They were enthralled to hear some stories about his past that they were not aware of: a renaissance man who was academically astute- graduated salutatorian- but yet mastered the guitar; a ladies man due to his wavy hair and good looks; but most of all his charm and his ability to easily connect with others. Even those who were less fortunate than him.

The part about the easy connect is probably why I am always thinking about him. We connected during the seventh grade when I was the new kid at this parochial junior high and he had been there two years prior to my arrival. I had come from a non-coed parochial school to that of a coed one. Consequently, I was awkward around the female students and thus sort of shy towards them. I sat at the back of the class and hardly uttered a word in class. A. T. must have noticed because this one day during recess period he sought me out. He assured me I had nothing to be afraid of. Girls were just like boys. You just have to get to know them. Don’t worry, he said, everything is going to be alright. Those few reassuring words and I have never been the same. Now I can lay claim to being the most extroverted person on the planet.

We were pre-Facebook and pre-Instagram kids with no photographs to mark the stages of our lives. As such A.T.’s image and words are forever etched in my memory bank. Every so often I catch myself thinking about him with tears streaming from my eyes. Oftentimes I wondered did I do him justice in his eulogy. Did I say enough or did I omit something relevant?

It has been about five years since he left us, and I can’t forget about those wonderful high school days when we young and carefree, with nothing in the world to worry about except “sleep and study”.

I must admit I do fantasize about what life would have been for both of us had he lived just a tad bit longer to my ripe age of sixty-eight.

It has been said of the millennial generation that you will be remembered for callous commitments, rudimentary romances, social media hawking, and fleeting friendships. Just remember that your college years will be an opportunity to unshackle those labels by making lasting friendships, and memories that you may be proud to tell to your children and grandchildren someday.

So why not make the best of these precious years?

Nathaniel N. Williams, Sr.




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