In six years so much has changed. But one thing has remained the same: on October 11, I wear green.
During my freshman year of high school, my life was turned upside down by a boy who told me I was pretty. He protected me, loved me, and was my “big brother” for the two years we were in school together.
We lost touch over the summer after he graduated, but for some reason I just assumed we’d reconnect again in the future. On October 11, 2006, he passed away. The police found drug paraphernalia near his body.
I found out a day later — my boyfriend at the time hadn’t wanted to tell me, for reasons I can’t even remember now. I found out in the cafeteria, when the boy behind me in line told the lunch lady that his dad, a cop, had been one of the ones to find the body.
October 12, 2006, was one of the most numbing days of my life. In the library, I found myself surrounded by friends, who reached out to me. Tried to hug me. Tried to say “I’m here.” But only one person got it. He and I found each other and fell apart.
I spent most of the day wandering the halls and going to the nurse’s office because I just couldn’t focus. It was one of my first experiences with death, so it really rocked me.
Six years later, less stands out in my mind. I can remember freezing my butt off at the candlelight service in Blackbrook Park, but I can’t remember who I was there with. I remember crying at the memorial service, when his best friend stood up to speak, but I can’t remember what was said. I can remember his smile, but not his laugh.
Six years later, I still wear green and listen to “Space Oddity” at least once. The article about his death that appeared in the Daily Record (I think…) has hung on my wall in every place where I’ve lived during college. Even though it’s faded and yellowing, that article is the only tangible piece of him that I still have.
As time goes by, I’m sure more will fade. Maybe after enough years go by, I’ll stop wearing green. Maybe it’ll stop being so upsetting every time the 11th rolls around. But I know that every single year, I’ll remember him.
Eric K. Roppenecker
02/05/1988 – 10/11/2006