Nineteen Ninety Three

Recently, an old classmate began teaching at our old elementary/middle school.  She has the daughter of another classmate in her class this year.  He decided to send in one of our old year books so she could laugh at us in all our adolescent glory.  It was through these photos of herself that she posted to Facebook that I found out she had lost her home years ago to a fire and subsequently all her yearbooks.

I have all of mine.  Kindergarten through Senior year.  I mentioned I could scan them all.  Just our class of course.  There were several, "Oh no, you betta not!" and several, "Do it! Do it!".

So I did.

My class.  Every year.  From Kindergarten through 8th grade.  I scanned and then posted them on Facebook.  To be tagged by all!  It was so great to look back at how we had all grown up from year to year.

But then...

1993. Eighth grade graduation.  Theme = Under the Sea 

Here I am (bottom left) with my friends. Amanda, Chris (back right), and Robert (behind me).

I had known Robert practically my entire life. We both stayed with the same babysitter before we were even in Kindergarten. I'd known Chris since the 1st grade. He was my first "boyfriend". He even passed me a "check yes or no" note to see if I liked him. When Amanda started attending our school in the 5th grade, we hit it off immediately.

I sat and stared at the image. I hadn't seen it some time. Forgotten I had uploaded it. Every time I look at it, I feel a crushing weight. The tears begin to flow and I can't stop them.

I am the only living person left from that photograph. I'm only 34 years old.

Amanda was murdered in her home on April 6th, 1999. Leaving behind a 4 month old daughter who would never know her. Her killer was tried, but never convicted. She was 20 years old.

Chris was killed in an ATV accident in Florida on April 16th, 2007. I hadn't seen him in many years. The thought that my first crush was gone, really gone, was a lot to take in. He left behind a son and daughter. He was 28.

Robert. I saw him at least once a year at the annual Tobacco Festival. The big event that always brings everyone back to their roots. He never failed to give me the hug that meant we'd known each other forever. He never failed to smile. He killed himself on June 24th, 2012. He was 33 years old. There was no funeral. No burial. He was just gone.

His loss hit me harder than I ever thought it would. Maybe it was the feeling that I had lost a friend, maybe it was the way he left us.

Maybe it was that I felt like a lost a piece of my childhood forever.

Since rediscovering that old photo, I haven't stopped thinking about them. About moments we shared, funny stories. Twenty years it has been since we stood in the cafeteria and posed for our parents.

And I will never forget them.

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