..........Then he encountered the gold mine, his high school papers. He looked them over, read every single one. These were from when he was discovering who he was, finding out what he believed in and what he stood for in this world. Even then he was still at the beginning, but at least it was a beginning. These were the manuscripts for the pilot episode of his life.
..........But they were more than that. In spite of being a wealth of knowledge documenting his early sense of wisdom, there were stories behind each paper and each note. He found a notebook with a handwriting he now recognized as his own detailing his observations on “Beowulf”, and another with notes he took for Mrs. Peterson’s Biology class. He got into an argument with someone at that time over how notes should be taken. There was also an essay about Theodore Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism”. Henry could still remember what other people had to say about it, and friends he had in that class.
..........They were filled with memories. Some painful, some beautiful. But they were only memories now. He remembered being sad knowing just how inevitable that was.
..........He put down his old, old stuff. How was it that he was a man with thin white hair now? He had become so used to being an adult. It was almost unthinkable that he was once a teenager.
..........“How’s your studying?” asked his wife, Josephine. She entered his office with a loaf of bread that she had cooked.
..........“I don’t think I want to study,” said Henry. “Younger minds can figure out this political drama. You know what I think I want to do? I want to find my friends from high school. I haven’t seen any of them in over thirty years.”
..........“Are you sure you can do that?”
..........“The doctors say I have a month to live. What else do I have to live for? I want my old friends there with me when I die. The ones who knew me when I was a child.” He got up and grabbed his cane. Josephine helped him along. They discussed the matter more as they walked through the house and they came to the conclusion that they were going to go through with it.
..........So Henry made a few calls. One was to his dear friend Rob, his best friend in high school. After some digging, Henry managed to find his letterman Jacket and met Rob at his house, all the way back to his home town.
..........Rob lived next to the cemetery.
..........As it turned out, Rob took the initiative to make a few calls of his own and invite other high school friends, including Emma, who was once a cheerleader, and Agatha, whom Henry had once dated. He blushed to see her. There was also his football friend Randall.
..........“This is such an unexpected surprise!” said Henry. He counted heads. There were four of his friends. “Where’s Dave and Gerald?”
..........“They passed away,” said Rob. There was silence. Rob tapped his foot.
..........“Oh,” said Henry. Those two, Rob, and himself had been the best of friends. They were inseparable. They were always there for each other. They went to each other’s birthday parties, had meals at each other’s houses. They were family, man – family. “I wish I could have been there for them.”
..........So they spent the afternoon eating the stale food associated with old people and enjoying themselves in the pale pastel colors of Rob’s living room. They talked about life, how far they had come in the last thirty years, their grandchildren, and what they were doing now, only to find that nobody had been doing anything. Emma and Agatha left, leaving just the men to hold counsel among themselves.
..........“Show me where they’re buried,” said Henry.
..........They left Robs house and visited the cemetery. Rob crossed a hill and found their friends’ gravestones. They weren’t too far off from the place where Henry’s parents were buried. They stood there in silence, and then fell to his knees, where he bowed his head in prayer for a long, long time in memory of his old, old friends.
..........“I’m so sorry I wasn’t there. Now there’s only two of us left,” said Henry.
..........“I’m here,” said Randall. “It don’t matter that I didn’t eat with your folks. I’m still your friend.”
..........“Rob, Randall,” said Henry, “I want to spend as much time as I can with you before I go. Will you be there for my funeral?”
..........“Yes,” said Rob. “Henry, I really miss you. I have other promises to keep. Do you remember those things we said we’d do, but we never did them?”
..........“Dave and Gerald aren’t around anymore to complete it, but Randall can help.”
..........It wasn’t the same Randall wasn’t part of those times when the four had gone camping together and dared to share their dreams.. Yet, it was better than nothing. “Yes, I would like that very much.”
..........He bowed his head one last time to Dave and Gerald’s graves. He had promises to keep, to them, to Rob, to himself, to his parents, to God. Even at this late hour, it was still necessary for him to remember who he was. Even now, a child.
..........And so it was that the beginning was the end.
Edited by Jean Valjean, Nov 19 2012 - 08:23 PM.