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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Thursday, December 15, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes

One Tuesday, December 13, our daughter got a call at work telling her that a former roommate in Montana had dropped dead while snowboarding in Colorado the day before. 25 years old and his heart just stopped. She was devastated and called us crying heart wrenchingly.

We never met this boy but he was one of the first people she met when she started Freshman year at MSU in Bozeman. Within the first few weeks of school she emailed me pix of new friends and scenes. One was of her dancing and laughing hysterically with a husky blond boy with impossibly beautiful blue eyes. I wrote back and among my comments was how much I loved them. When we talked several days later she said he'd laughed when she told him since they were contact lenses.

By the end of Sophomore year she decided to move off campus and join him in the apartment he'd rented at the start of the year. She left her things there and came home for the summer but several times he called to chat and when she wasn't here he was happy to chat with me. He loved to cook, steaks in particular, so at Christmas I sent him some Elijah Craig marinade and basting sauce. He loved it. When she was getting her first cell phone he assured me that working at Verizon he would make sure she got a good and not horribly expensive plan. There was absolutely no romantic involvement between them but they were really close friends. Sometime during that year, another girl and her boyfriend moved in with them to further reduce the rent and expenses. The boyfriend was unemployed and non-contributing so eventually he was invited to leave. And then many months later some disagreement erupted among the remaining three and our daughter and the other girl departed to a new apartment and the friendship was ended.

She never shared with us what had happened only that she was never speaking to him again. I was sad because we were going to visit Bozeman and I'd hoped to meet him at last. Considering the rift and the fact that he was her friend, after all, we didn't press to meet him. Especially, not knowing the circumstances, the meeting may have been uncomfortable for him.  But friendships come and friendships go and it is part of life that some friends are lifelong and others are transitory, no matter how strong they may have once been.

Several years past, graduation came and went and she returned to Vermont for a year. Then she returned to Montana and they ran into each other and at least resumed speaking though the friendship never regained its former strength. At least the air was cleared and they were happy to see each other when their paths crossed. We never had contact with him again but were glad that such a happy go lucky guy had been returned to her circle, if only peripherally.  She returned once more to Vermont in October and this was the first she'd heard of him since then. His heart stopped while snowboarding in Colorado!  What a tragic end to such a young man. Even her parents grieve for the loss of one so young. At this time of year.

Thinking of his plans to go home to Montana, the gifts he may have bought for his family, those for him. All the holiday excitement and anticipation of family gathering. It is beyond the imagination. The devastation at a time meant to be joyful and happy. How sad for all concerned.

And then on Wednesday, Dec 14 and again today two articles in our paper about another 24 year old young man snowboarding in Colorado. He was making his runs at the same time our girl was receiving the bad news. Was he on the same slopes less than 24 hours later? Kevin Pierce, a boy from our area, returning to the snowboarding world two years almost to the day of having suffered a severe brain injury preparing for the Winter Olympics.  How bittersweet in light of our news.  How we wish our friend could have been there watching Kevin regain some of his ability. But then, maybe he was.

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