Paul was a sweet kid I went to school with. He was short with dark hair and amazing eyes not unlike my Scorch. He was a wise-ass and a charmer and he always, always had a big grin for everyone. He was honestly one of the nicest people I ever have met.
Paul died the summer I turned 16.
The day is etched into my brain. I spent the afternoon driving around country hills with my boyfriend- with no particular destination in mind, we just enjoyed the day. When I got home my parents were literally standing in the window watching for me. Paul was in a car crash- he was driving on a windy road and crashed head on into a dump truck. He was killed instantly.
At almost-16, I had never lost anyone close to me before who wasn’t elderly. My friends and I had lived a charmed life up until that point. Paul’s death shook us to the core. The days after his death are still so clear to me. The crying, the huddling together, the wake, the funeral, spending time at Paul’s mom’s house trying to prop each other up.
About 10 days after Paul died, I spent the evening with two friends. As it often did, our conversation turned to Paul and how we wished we knew that he was at peace. On the walk back to my house, we sat down on the side of the road and asked Paul to give us a sign that he was OK. We sat there in silence- waiting, watching for that sign. After a few minutes we realized how silly that was- because anything from the owl hooting to the car honking could have been a sign. So we got specific. We told Paul if he was OK to please please cancel swim lessons the following day. The three of us taught swim lessons for 4 hours a day and wanted a break.
That next day while I was driving to swim lessons, I saw one of my friends and her mom driving away from the pool. When I got to the pool, the director was sitting outside. She told us that lessons were canceled that day- the pool pump broke in the middle of the night.
I still get chills when I think about that.
Happy birthday, Paul- I’m glad you’re OK.