Posted by: The Lazy Admin | August 7, 2008

Losing A Piece of the Past

I’m sort of a strange ball of emotions at the moment, so I figured it was as good of a reason as any to make a new post.

On Sunday evening around 6:30pm one of my childhood friends, Anthony J. Robertson, was killed in a single car accident.  Growing up I always knew him as “Tony” but he sort of changed his preferences from time to time as to whether or not he liked being called that.  He had a wife of 10 years and a son about as old as that.

I’d safely say I considered Anthony one of my best friends for several years of my life.  We rode the bus to school together, hung out at school, and stayed the night at each others’ houses often.  Together we would play video games, watch movies, do dangerous stuff like creating explosives, and were fascinated with his his parents’ porn collection.  I’d say we were typical adolescent boys in this area.  He was rude, crude, and sometimes unbearable but during those years I can’t say I ever saw him not having fun very often.  He would take a boring situation like being in class and make it interesting for himself.

We eventually stopped hanging out, though I don’t even remember why or how it happened but we eventually just drifted apart and stopped talking.  Years later I ended up having a class with him in high school and his demeanor seemed to have changed quite a bit.  He wasn’t always the smiling, looking-to-have-fun person I had known him to be.  I don’t know if he even had any friends.

Eventually we all graduated and started doing our own thing.  Anthony got married, had a kid, and started working.  I went to college.  I never heard from or saw him until I went into McDonald’s here in 2003 or 2004, and he was working.  I talked briefly and caught up a little.  He was about to quit McDonald’s and undergo brain surgery to hopefully stop the grand mal seizures he had been plagued with.  It wasn’t until a year or two later that I saw him again as I was entering a restaurant and he and the wife were leaving.  The surgery had apparently helped and he was working again.  That was the last I had heard from him until I was told about the fatal accident.

Still sketchy details at best from what I heard, but either he swerved and over-corrected to avoid a car that was in his lane, or he had been the one to cross lanes and over-corrected.  He was 28 years old.

I can’t help but feel heartbroken over this loss.  Being friends with Anthony helped form me into the person I am today.  He’s part of my history.  Who’s to say who I’d be without his friendship?  I know he was generous to most everyone who was close friends with him.  On more than one occasion he’d pay for movies, drinks, popcorn, video game rentals, etc. with money he had earned working in tobacco or something else.

There were bad aspects of him, for sure.  Even as a teenager he was obsessed with alcohol.  I think maybe his life was turned around in the years I didn’t know him though.  He was attending a local church with his family so that stands for something in my mind.  Thing is, I feel anger and sadness towards the people who knew him, called him friend, and yet didn’t care enough to share the loss with his family.  His family was gracious enough to take me into their house on many occasions and treat me like one of their own and I felt obliged to show them some respect.

I went to the visitation yesterday and talked briefly with his parents.  His dad’s first words were, “I know I should know you, but I can’t remember exactly how I know you”.  I explained who I was and he shook my hand… and didn’t let go.  I looked him in the eye and could see how strong he was trying to be.  We talked for a minute or so about Anthony, the past, and so on before I caught his mom’s attention.  His dad’s final comments to me was, “Well, when something like this happens you find out quick who your friends are, and I appreciate it.”   His mom knew right away who I was when I asked her if she remembered me.  She hugged me, and again we talked a while.  It was all I could do to keep from breaking down at the tremendous feeling of sadness and loss.  Situations like that are impossible for me to not empathize with those who are hurting, and even today I’m still feeling the pain.

I can’t begin to describe all of the things I feel.  I think, what if it happened to me?  Who would come to my visitation?  Would anyone think fondly of any memories I’d created with them?  Would anyone even care?  And then I think back to the sermon that, ironically, was preached at my church the day Anthony was killed.  The pastor talked about how people care, but they don’t care, because they don’t know what’s going on in the lives of the people they care about, so that even though they care emotionally, they don’t go through the act of caring to the people around them.  I felt the proper thing to do was visit Anthony and his family in their time of need and show them that, yes, people do care.  I care.  I care because I feel pain too.  I care because I can understand what they may be going through and that someone from the past, like me, will show them that people did care about Anthony and their pain.

I care because I want friends who will come to my funeral and comfort my family should I die unexpectedly.  What some people don’t seem to understand is that caring about someone isn’t convenient.  It’s going to take time, it’s going to interrupt your life, but Christians as members of the body of Christ are supposed to care for each other, and whether you “love” someone or not, Christ told us to love each other as He has loved us.  I think it makes me more sad than angry that there are still people who knew Anthony who didn’t care to make time to at least visit with his family after their loss.

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