This week one of my high school classmates died suddenly. Casey Croxton was only 58 years old. He was a successful attorney in our home town. Casey and I did not know each other well in high school, but we acknowledged each other in passing from time to time, as high schoolers do. The forty years since we graduated seems to have flown by. I was thinking about high school, and the magical and terrible place that it is.
A high school is a micro community. We lived and walked and learned beside each other. We feared and loved each other. We were divided by so many imaginary barriers - beauty, brains, social status, income. Some of us were moved in packs, others of us existed in solitude. Sometimes we just wanted to have fun, sometimes we yearned to move on and away from the small town where most of us had spent our short lives. We might grow up, but we thought we'd never change, that we would always have each other. We did not know at 17 and 18 that we would ultimately become separated by circumstances and life itself.
Now, 40 years later, life has broken the barriers that divided us back then. At our reunion this fall, there was a general feeling of gratitude. Gratefulness to be alive, to have survived not only the fires of adolescence, but the long years since 1974. Our paths have been as varied as we are, but common experience has given us perspective. We've all experienced happiness, heartbreak, and loss, we've been tempered by life. In a way, we are closer now than we were back then. A Facebook page has become our virtual daily reunion.
We are sharing our grief on a FB page set up to honor our classmate. Many are posting memories from high school, and from recent years. We are united in mourning the loss not just for ourselves, but for his children and family. With this sadness is also a feeling of togetherness. At this time in our lives we are beginning to realize we must expect such losses. Our lives were just beginning in 1974. Fewer years stretch in front of us than those we have thus far traversed.
I am so grateful that I knew Casey, even slightly. His life mattered, and he made a difference in the short time he spent on this earth. He leaves behind a family and friends who loved him.