Reflections on My Dead Classmates
I’d never visited the house before but recognized the face looming down at us as we crossed the threshold. The massive high school senior portrait above the mantle was unmistakably from my alma mater and graduating class of 1990.
“Is that Quinn Toulon? Is this the Toulon home?”
My then-husband let out an exasperated sigh. “Bonnie, you can’t possibly have a connection to this house, too?!? This is the fourth house we’ve looked at and you’ve somehow managed to know everyone who owns these houses. You must be making this up.”
But I wasn’t. When you’re raised in a small-to-midsize town, I guess you’re six degrees of separation to just about everybody.
It’s true that I didn’t know Quinn well. In fact, I’m not sure he knew me at all.
We didn’t run in the same circle. If I recall, his crowd was the baseball All-American boys with pretty girlfriends from established Tallahassee families. My crew, on the other hand, was a mixture of geniuses with a slightly warped sense of humor, lean soccer players, creatives, and/or alt-80s-loving, Doc Martin-wearing peeps.
I was fortunate that my class wasn’t particularly exclusionary the way most high schools are. But it would be inaccurate to say that there wasn’t some delineation. So Quinn Toulon and I didn’t particularly intersect.
But you couldn’t miss Quinn. He must have been 6'4" or 6'5". He looked 25 when he was a freshman. I recall him as confident but never intimidating. I merely watched him from afar.
Today I learned that Quinn passed away this month from cancer. Of course, it’s sad to learn about the death of a fellow classmate — a father, husband, son, brother, colleague, and dear friend. But I must admit that I wouldn’t have anticipated having such a strong reaction.
We only tangentially overlapped but my heart is heavy. More than I would have suspected.
Yes, yes, yes. My own mortality. My friends’ mortality.
But I suppose underneath all of that is the way my mind, heart, and soul operate: the small human ties and overlaps often matter more to me than most people.