I'd been at the wake for maybe a half an hour when a short tow-headed kid I'd never seen before handed me a small sheet of blue cardboard paper and a glitter pen in some emasculating shade - purple, I think.
"What's this for?"
"You're supposed to write down your favorite story about Adam," he stated solemnly, and scurried off. I opened the pen and scrawled something on the sheet, and dropped it into the box when I got the end of the line.
I'm telling you this because what I wrote on the sheet was nothing more than a platitude, a fairly worthless bit of reminiscing on Adam's character and God's love. Maybe it was the length of time since I saw Adam last, or maybe we'd never really known each other well enough, but I couldn't come up with a single event, a single anecdote, even a single shared experience. I wrote something about his smile. I'm sorry, Adam, you deserved more than that.
So let me tell you what I do remember about you.
I've known you as long as I've known anyone - you were born only two years after me - so there's no period in my life that I can recall where I haven't known you. We went to school together in both grade school and high school, you were always part of that group of omnipresent constant friends I called simply "family."
I'm glad we were such good friends in high school. We were in the same boat, "nice guys," that inescapable description that meant we were thoughtful and conscientious and always there to lend a hand, even if it meant that people would walk over you. But so much of what I did was show, while you really did toil unnoticed in the wings - there's a reason I never won those "Servant's Heart" awards at the end of the year, just as there's a reason that you always did.
You were all those things that don't count with people in high school - you were friendly and unassuming and eternally dedicated to your friends and deep enough to be worth talking to. You were relaxed and fun and willing to mess around with anyone. You really listened to people. You weren't all that cool by the sheltered Christian culture standards at our school, but then, the definition of cool at our school was "not being a virgin," (and we didn't know anyone who wasn't).
You disappeared out of my life for good after you finished high school, so I guess the last time I saw you was two years ago, when I came to Nashua to see your graduation. You'd grown up during the year while I'd been away at college, and suddenly you were taller, more broad-shouldered, and you had that grown-up... look. I knew - everyone knew - you'd do well.
I suppose too much had happened with awkward break-ups and bruised relationships, but you disappeared out of my group of friends that summer, and I'm sorry I never saw you since. I don't know what we would have had to talk about if I'd seen you this summer anyway. I found out tonight you'd switched to being a communications major a few weeks back because of your love of photography. So I guess we could've talked about that. I would've liked that.
And I really did like your smile, just so you know. I wasn't lying about that. I'll be glad to see it on the other side. Until then: goodbye, Adam. You did good. Rest in peace.