When I graduated high school, there was about 99.9 percent of me that wanted to get out of my hometown, because I wanted to see what the rest of world was like. I’ve always said it was a town, in which you went to school there, left for college, but found your way back there to raise your family. That didn’t appeal to my sister or me at all.
I also had a gut feeling when my dad retired from teaching, my parents would put up a “For Sale” on the house my sister and I grew up in, because there was nothing left for them either. Three years later, after I left, I was proven right.
I’ve only been back to my hometown less than five times in the last 20 years. I’ve been asked why I don’t go back more, I’ve answered, “What’s the point after my parents moved?” and the conversation immediately ends.
Thanks to Facebook, I’m “friends” with enough people from there, so I sort of know what’s going on in the town.
When the news came across my Facebook feed Thursday, that one of our classmates I graduated with died in a car accident the previous night, it felt like I lost a close relative, even though I hadn’t seen her in over 20 years.
In a graduating class of around 100 people, we’ve had less than five people die so far as we are in our early 40’s. We were a class in which everyone knew of everyone. The memories I had of her were she was pleasant, happy and never seem depressed. She was universally liked by nearly everybody, from what I remembered.
At the same time, being in this line of work, I get accident reports, some of those fatals. So, I wanted to know what happened. It didn’t take me long to find it. The accident happened after 6 p.m. She was heading southbound on a highway, when the car she was driving ran off the road to the left, rolled and landed in the ditch. The roads were dry. No alcohol was involved and she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt.
An eight-year-old was in the backseat and did wear a seatbelt.
What was even more tragic was seeing the obituary, as she was the mother of two sons and a foster daughter. It was immediately suggested on Facebook pages by fellow class members to do some form of tribute and monetary donations would be gladly appreciated to help with the understandably long road now ahead for the family.
It took me about a nanosecond to tell myself I should donate. It felt like the right thing to do. I don’t know why. Maybe it was the teenage version of myself telling the adult version of myself to put aside the lingering feelings that you have about your life as a teenager and just do the right thing.
I’m glad I did.
Jason Schulte can be reached at email: firstname.lastname@example.org.