For the past few years, I have acquired the habit of daily checking the obituaries in my hometown (Up North) newpaper's website. From time to time, people will show up there who I remember - people from the church my family belonged to, parents of my friends, old teachers/coaches, and increasingly in recent years, my friends and classmates. It's always a little bit jarring to see one of my classmates in the obits; we're in our mid-50s now, so collectively, we've got a few miles on us, so to speak, but we're not as old as all that, you know?
Even as far back as when I was in my 20s, though, I remember hearing about a guy who'd been my brother's best friend, and with whom I'd played many a game of backyard football, being killed in a drunk-driving accident. Another guy who I'd known since my grade-school days was run over by a car, just crossing the street on his lunch hour. It does remind you of how fragile, and how precious, human life is.
Whenever I see someone with whom I went to school in the obits, it always piques my curiosity a bit - what kind of life did they have? Did they die of a sudden, catastrophic illness or accident? Or did too much hard living catch up with them (I've known of a few of those, too)? What about their families - their spouses and children? Sometimes, I remember seeing them at a class reunion; sometimes not.
Just recently, as I was doing my regular Up North obit scan, I noticed a 54-year-old woman with the same last name as a guy I'd gone to school with, so I clicked on her name, to see if she might have been related to the guy I was thinking of. She might have been his sister, or possibly married to his brother, or something (and of course, just because she was my age and living in my old hometown, doesn't have to mean anything; people even move up there, from time to time).
But what I found made me sit back and stare at the screen, for a couple seconds. It was Bev, the girl I'd taken to the prom, and who'd left with another guy. It was a very odd sensation, and all the moreso because it was only a few months ago that I blogged about her. I sure don't remember her fondly; the brief interlude in which our paths crossed is mostly an occasion for rueful, or embarrassed, recollection, when I think of it at all. Heck, in describing the story of how she treated me at the prom, I said I wasn't really all that interested in what had become of her. And I really wasn't.
But now, I was finding out, for free, without having to look it up or anything. The obit mentioned her husband, who turned out to indeed be the brother of the guy I'd been thinking of. She had three kids, and her son had a different last name than her husband; in fact, he was 'junior', with the same name as another classmate of ours, who I'd known in passing. So she'd had at least two husbands, and had kids with a guy I remembered. Both her parents are still living, likely in their late 70s or 80s by now.
I'm hard-pressed to account for the odd emotional reaction it provoked in me to hear of her death. In the grand sweep of my life, she's really not all that significant, notwithstanding what happened around the prom. She was never my girlfriend, although for a couple weeks, way back when, I was fairly head-over-heels on her account. I didn't know her all that well before then (if I had, I might not have asked her to the prom), and I had even less to do with her afterward.
But you know, she might have been my First Kiss. I'm honestly not sure, but I can't think of any other likely candidates for the honor. It's a little sad, though, if she is. I'd like to think of my First Kiss fondly; not that she was a skank who cynically used me.
Not that it matters all that much by now, anyway. It is what it is. There's nothing to do about it, one way or the other. And may God have mercy. . .