So why is it that when someone - especially an adult - from our childhood dies, it is such a rare and odd thing? It stands to make sense that the older we get, the more funerals we will face unfortunately. Especially, as I said, for those folks who were adults in our childhood. It's almost like our brains can't comprehend a natural aging process unless we see the entire spectrum. Take, for instance the fact that when a person who we know well and have always known, dies, it's common to say and think the following: "I've known her since she was a little girl." "I remember the day she graduated from junior high." "I remember that time she tried to say she was already 21." And so on.
Then when an adult from our past dies, we say that, "I can't believe he was so old." I I can't believe how he aged." "I didn't think things would happen this way."
It's almost as if we are surprised that things work out the way they do. We are born. We live for a little bit. Then we die.
Now going back to the adults of our childhood, try this...close your eyes...remember back to your first athletic coach...was it Coach Williams or perhaps Coach Sidell or maybe even Coach Thompson (or any other fictitious name that perpetuates a certain stigma most high school coaches have...that of a douche bag.)
Anyway, so this Coach Bags, we'll call him. Remember what he looked like? Or what she smelled like? Or the color around her eyes? Or the color of her eyes? Or the way he laughed and raised his leg up only to balance his weight on one foot and lunge forward over crossed arms as real men-coaches do? Remember all those stupid little details about this person? Remember their first name and the one thing they told you when you needed to hear some sort of good athletic news/lesson/pep talk in order to go on? That certain something that stayed with you until now.
You know why you remember all those little ridiculous details? Because that certain someone had an impact on who we are for the rest of our pathetic lives. Imagine that...one minute, one semester, one year...and you have the chance to become someone who lives on long after they die.
So I just found out my old track coach just died. I won't be able to attend his funeral and I think I feel slightly guilty about that. Not that he would remember me. But his harsh tactics and super short shorts with long socks obviously impacted me, so I feel a tinge of sadness or remorse when I think about my chance to say good-bye to the man who made me cry back when I first discoverd the art of long distance running. It was a bittersweet relationship to the say the least. See you at the finish line coach.