Alex died at 21 years of age. Some of the many people who loved him gathered here last night, at his old high school, to say goodbye. The drama teacher, who had acted almost as a surrogate mother to Alex (taking him into her home, feeding him when he was hungry, giving him love and direction when he was directionless), suspended her grief long enough to organize a memorial service for Alex at the school. She is a remarkable woman.
Alex was a skilled musician and an actor. The service was a fitting homage to him, featuring music performed by many of his talented friends. When the formal event ended, we went outside the school to where a large Japanese cherry was in full bloom. His friends released balloons, and a woman in the crowd (I’m not sure who she was), sang a beautiful swelling hymn to the sky as we watched the balloons float away. Her dark alto voice seemed to envelope all of us like a warm breeze, and we thought of Alex and how much we loved him. Dear Boy.
He was just that, I guess – just a boy – a boy who came to our school. We knew him well, and we know his friends well, and his girlfriend, and her family. From a distance, it might not seem to mean anything, but when you work here day to day, it’s everything. We have loved him, and now he’s gone. Goodbye Alex.