During my first year of college, one of my high school classmates conducted a sociology experiment in which he led us all to believe that he had been killed. It was a pretty horrible time, and he had to eventually come forward to let us know it was just an academic experiment. He was genuinely sorry, but several class members had a hard time moving on from that.
That was more than 12 years ago.
This past weekend, a member of my high school class actually did die.
Jafiya and I had been in the same class since fourth grade. He was goofy and lighthearted from as far back as I can remember--one of the class clowns in middle school who turned that same energy to sports in high school. Like many teenage boys, he was bright but concentrated more on enjoying life than studying. When classes dragged us down, Jafiya could always make us laugh. He had a contagious laugh--really, really loud, the kind of laugh you could hear all over the high school.
While I can't claim that we were ever close, I liked Jafiya. In a class of only 27, you learn to like everybody and be friends as much as possible. Sure, we ran in different circles, but he made me laugh, and he didn't make fun of me to my face, which is something.
I never saw Jafiya after we graduated from high school in June 2000. I ran across most of my other classmates one way or another, either at our high school on visits or at gatherings in the U.S. for weddings or the very occasional funeral. But I never saw Jaf. I often wondered what had become of him.
And now I know.
Jafi-D, I am listening to the U2 song "Grace" and thinking of you. "Grace finds goodness in everything." I pray that God's grace would cover you, making beauty from ashes. I hope and pray that you can rest peacefully now, at the end of all things.
With much love,