In Memory of
David Austin Balfour
September 5, 1979 – January 11, 2012
I woke up this morning to the news that a classmate was no longer walking this earth. We were acquaintances in high school, but we interacted often enough to get to know each other.
As I read the news on the internet and on his facebook page I had a memory flash into my mind of us sitting in Mrs. Griswell’s Senior English class. I was sitting near the back of the room, second row from the door. He was sitting in the first row next to the door, third chair from the front, facing the rest of the class, with his classic grin. If you knew David, you know which one I’m talking about. There wasn’t a care in the world to him. I wished then that I could know what that felt like.
This is first memory that came to mind this morning.
It would be a lie to say that I don’t know why I am so bothered by the news of David’s death. He is gone. No more status updates on facebook. No more class reunions to attend. David’s journey on this earth has come to an end. And I am bothered.
I am bothered because I wish the circumstances were different. I am bothered because there were things left unsaid for those that knew him most and best. I am bothered because I really don’t have anything to say that will change the reality of what happened last night. But, I think what bothers me most is that I was reminded, yet again, that there is no guarantee of tomorrow for any of us. I don’t think David was thinking yesterday that he would not be here today. I don’t think that it even crossed his mind that January 11, 2012 was going to be his last day on Earth.
The fact that life is so fragile, so unpredictable should make all of us carefully consider what we invest our time into. The unexpected has happened…again. Losing someone we know or love cannot be avoided. We would just rather not think about it. But, today we don’t have that luxury. Today we are faced with David’s death and our mortality. Today we can’t avoid dealing with the reality of death and the eventuality of our own demise.
Days like today are difficult. The following words have helped me understand how I should respond and deal with the reality of events like David’s death. I share them here, not as an explanation of why this happened. That would be foolish. I share them to let all of us know that we are not alone in our grief and pain. Our sadness and contemplation. I hope that they help to provide some perspective.
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. [Source]
David, I hear the bell tolling.