A couple of hours ago my friend Katya texted me. She told me a kid in her grade committed suicide. She is in 10th grade, I am in 11th. I assumed I wouldn’t know the kid, it would be some under the radar kid. Someone who went silently bullied and that, though sad, I could not personally connect to. I would probably say damn, think about life, and move on. That didn’t happen. She said Evan Rosenstock.
Evan Rosenstock may be one of the nicest people I ever met. I don’t think he was ever not smiling. Even his relaxed face turned up the corners of his mouth a little bit, and he had a clean row of braces that made his smile extra noticeable. I remember when I came to my high school, I didn’t know anyone. I would just casually sit places and strike up conversations with people. One day, after school, I struck up a conversation with Evan.
We talked about basketball. We talked about my old private school. We talked about teenage stuff. He was a little bit awkward, he was really sweet. Sometimes he stumbled on his words, and it made me smile. His kindness was infectious, he just made me want to talk to him. I never got his name the first time we met, I’m terrible with names. I don’t ask for them so I have an excuse for not knowing.
I would see and talk to him after school from time to time or walking around with my friend Danny. I started to ask what his name was.
“Evan” people told me.
“Alan” I would call him. He would smile and correct me. It happened more than once, I was terrible with names. I would apologize profusely. I would blame my own ignorance. He would say it was okay, he would smile.
He played basketball. He played my brother in basketball. On my brother’s team was a kid named Kyle. Kyle Depollar’s father, Mr. Steve Depollar, was Evan’s AAU coach. Coach Steve he called him. I often sat with Kyle’s mom or Coach Steve at my brother’s games, Evan noticed.
He would excitedly ask me how I knew the Depollars, and then explain how he played for Coach Steve. Every time, he would tell me. I would wonder sometimes why he would ask me every time, maybe he just wanted something to talk to me about when I came up to talk to Danny, but I would always engage him. I sincerely liked Evan. He was nice.
I had a hello for him or a smile whenever we encountered each other. Not every time we passed in the hallways, but I always noticed him. He had a rolling backpack. I think it might have been Jordan. I remembered I thought it was cute. A lot of kids think it is weird to have a rolling backpack, but we really all wish we had one. It is so much more comfortable, and so much more fun.
When Katya first told me it was Evan, I thought, damn, I knew him. As the hours passed I tried to retract this thought, we barely knew each other, it shouldn’t hurt this much, but I couldn’t take back knowing Evan for the past year and a half. We weren’t best friends, but we knew each other, I could say “my friend Evan.” I could imagine making jokes with him about Kyle transferring to Whitman. I could imagine teasing Danny with him in the future. I could imagine his big smile, braces twinkling.
I’m never going to see it again. Maybe if I’d experienced something like this before, it wouldn’t hit me so hard. But I haven’t, none of my friends have ever died. The only person I really knew who died was my grandpa, and I was only 6. I was sad, but my parents prepared me for it. He had cancer.
I didn’t know Evan was ill, I didn’t know he was suffering from any metaphorical cancer. He was always smiling. I know people can hide behind a smile, but if someone is always smiling, and then he kills himself, did he spend his whole life in hiding? And if he spent his whole life in hiding, was he ever living? When did Evan really die? Was it today or was it a long time ago?
Why did Evan even have to die? Who decides this? Is there really a greater power, and if so, why did he kill Evan? Is dying really ideal? Because from what I knew of him, Evan deserved the ideal, he deserved good things. Nobody’s perfect, but I do believe people can be inherently good, and Evan was. I’m perceptive, and maybe I couldn’t perceive his death, but I could perceive as much as him being truly kind.
I believe in reincarnation. Energy can not be created or destroyed, only converted. So whatever, whoever has Evan’s energy now, I am happy for you. Maybe it is in all of us. Maybe that is the churning in my stomach, the pain in my head. That is me accepting Evan’s energy. If it is, fine. I take it, that piece of kindness he puts in all of us.
The idea that I won’t see him and his rolling back pack after art tomorrow pains me. The idea that I will never watch him play basketball again and yell at him and other players because I just do. The idea that I will never joke around with him and Danny and make him laugh again as I tease Danny. These ideas never even occurred to me this morning, even 4 hours ago. They just have eased up on me.
I didn’t know I would miss Evan so much. If I had left high school and never seen him again, I probably would have been okay. However, I could also see our friendship growing and us becoming close, because he was desirable company. I would have liked to know him better. If I had just moved on in life, I would have been content knowing he was spreading his kindness, even if I was not the recipient.
I wish I could have gotten to know him better, but I’m glad I did know him. I hope he looks down and can read this, and knows he helped me to realize how little things he did are imprinted in my brain. I remember little details about people because they mean something to me. The things Evan did meant something because people are not just kind, that takes something not everyone has. Evan had it, and I hope with his departure, the world hasn’t lost it.
I hope we meet again somehow.
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