How the Chance Sight of an Obituary Helped Me Finally Understand a Childhood Friend

We are all so innocent and unprepared to navigate the challenges of life

Walter Rhein
Lives Well Lived
Published in
6 min readJun 10, 2024

--

Image by Walter Rhein

Dennis had passed away.

I stopped scrolling and stared. For a long time I sat with my finger on the mouse, trying to process news that made absolutely no sense.

“This can’t be right,” I thought. “This can’t be how the story ends.”

I clicked on the obituary and read the words. The letters landed in my mind and scattered like seeds across dry ground. I kept trying to gather them up. Again and again they slid through my fingers.

He had cancer. He was too young. He was a few years older than me. There was a picture of him smiling and he looked the same.

The next week I saw my mother. “Did you hear about Dennis?” she asked. I replied that I had. “So sad. I remember him being very kind, such a very kind boy.”

An artist and an athlete

Dennis was a senior and I was a sophomore. Ours was a group of misfits, with one or two from each class. Though Dennis was older, he was not our leader. It wasn’t that kind of group. We never challenged each other for dominance.

--

--

Walter Rhein
Lives Well Lived

I have 10+ years experience as a certified English and Physics teacher. 20+ years of experience as an editor, journalist, blogger and novelist.