A black bow tied to the fence at Phillips High School ripples in the wind today, while a matching bow, posty notes with messages and “#55” cover the front of a young man’s locker. The halls are quiet; the atmosphere one of grief, shock and respect as students mourn the loss of classmate Tristan Day. Tristan died on Tuesday due to injuries sustained in a one-vehicle accident. He was seventeen. His funeral is set for this afternoon.
My kids are learning a hard lesson this week. Death can take anyone, at any time and it sucks. I can’t make it better. I can’t shield them from the pain, not theirs or anyone else’s. I want so much to do that, but it isn’t possible.
When L.J. first got his license, he was delegated to picking up Anna at her ballgames, taking her to practice and such. Most of the time he went to the games early to help collect the parking fee money or just hang out with his friends at PHS because he went to different school and didn’t get to see them often. I’d call him after school and he’d say “I’m hanging out with Tristan and Travis waiting for the game to start.” Tristan is the second friend he has lost this week. (The other one was quite a bit older and died of a sudden heart attack.)
Anna’s played volleyball, softball, cheered and hung around these kids since she was three. Sure, there’s drama, but to her they are like family. She is taking this pretty hard. Both of them went to the funeral home last night. I didn’t ask them to or tell them that it was the right thing to do. They just went. I guess it’s time to realize my babies really are almost grown.
I asked them if they were okay when they got home. Anna told me he didn’t look like him. I told her the only thing I could. No. It doesn’t because that body is just a shell. He has gone to an amazing place. She said she knew that but it wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair. I couldn’t disagree with her. She told me she hugged his mom, that she wanted to say something but there just weren’t any words so she hugged her harder and prayed for her.
Praying is really all you can do. I pray for Ali (his girlfriend) who is understandably devastated. I pray for his family who must try to live on with this awful void in their lives. Even through this horrible time, I’ve seen something good. Something that should be shared. Instead of closing themselves off, or turning away from someone hurting, these kids are lifting each other up, holding on to their faiths, praying and showing an amazing display of love for each other and for their friend. I’ve seen young men cry, unashamed of their emotions. How we handle ourselves in the darkest hour truly shows our deepest character. I am so proud of all of them.
Please send up your prayers for his family and those who are grieving. But the most important request of all is never take each other for granted. If you love someone tell them every chance you get.
*Note – A memorial fund has been set up to help cover the cost of his burial expenses. If you would like to contribute, contact Traders and Farmers Bank, Haleyville, AL (205) 486-5263 for details.