I believe that life is about the connections we make – the relationships we create throughout our lives.
Eddie entered my life as another friend left. We met at the going away party for the foreign exchange student Pol. After a long night of heavy drinking, we sat around the dwindling bonfire, smoking cigars as the sun rose. As we were reminiscing about Pol’s year with us, Eddie stood up and told me to put out his cigar on his arm and commanded a third party to do the same to Pol. He wanted this burn on his forearm to represent the brotherhood that had developed between him and Pol. Me, obviously still feeling the effects of the eight previous hours of beer pong complied, holding the Swisher down until his skin turned white. Pol on the other hand began to laugh and ran away when Ryan tried to stab him.
The sad truth about death is that it brings people together. When Eddie was taken off of life support, there was a vigil held in his honor less than 2 hours later at the high school. Over 1300 people packed into the gym with a capacity of 900 and prayed in his honor. The next day at school, everyone in the senior class wore white and a picture was taken in the gym with the people spelling out the word Eddie. The community was brought together. Facebooks were alight with prayers and wishes and R.I.P.’s. Flowers were sent to the Brown’s doorstep. Texts were sent among friends to say that they love each other.
The funeral was an open casket, which was striking, considering Eddie’s mutilated body. As we made our way through, we talked to relatives and consoled friends. When I reached the casket, it was hard to look at him. To see the boy that brought smiles to everyone’s faces with a hollow look on his own was unbearable. Instead, my eyes traveled to his arm. To the circular scar that was so familiar to me. Though his body was lifeless and his soul in heaven, the tangible symbol of our friendship was still there, imprinted on his arm.
This event has had a profound impact on me as a person. While I am sad to see Eddie leave, I am glad that he was a part of my life. It has also allowed me to put life into perspective and reminds me of a quote from Tennyson: “I am part of all that I have met.”
I believe that life is about the connections that we make. Whether it be the waitress at P.F. Chang’s that made you laugh when she delivered your eighth Shirley Temple. Or your college roommate that leaves the heat on, even though it is May. Or the young, impressionable boy who forces you to put a cigar out on his arm. Treasure all these connections because these are what makes you you. You are part of all that you have met.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.