I was a middle-schooler in the Midwest participating in a city ski club (that involved two school districts that both drew, in part, from the city in which I lived). Gordon and I became friends on the bus rides to and from and while sharing chairlifts on the mountain. I had a sweet teenage friendship with and crush on him. We only saw each other on those weekly ski trips one season.
Months later there was a story in the local paper, and I heard a few schoolmates talking at their lockers about a kid who’d been shot accidentally while showing a friend a gun in his home. It wasn’t until some time later that I found out it had been Gordon who’d died. I discovered it was him after all the services and memorials had happened.
I wrote a grieving, heartfelt poem about him. I sent his parents a card with my condolences. My teenage life went on. I graduated high school, went on to college, worked, traveled, got married, had a kid, etc.
However, to this day (40 years later) and during the intervening years, Gordon pops up in my mind from time to time: those sweet, chilly bus trips, giggling with my friend/crush seem like yesterday. For a few, overwhelming moments, the pain of losing that friend comes flooding back and rushes through my mind and heart. I wonder about the life that might have been, who he might have become in his own life and within mine.