This post was originally written on September 18, 2008, and has become an annual re-post on this date (with dates/years adjusted).
On this day eighteen years ago, four of my best friends were involved in a single-car accident just outside of Tucson, Arizona. Three of them were killed instantly, either thrown from the vehicle or crushed beneath it. One of those friends who was killed was one of my best friends since kindergarten, a teammate on multiple baseball teams, and my college roommate/teammate during my freshman year at Pepperdine. The lone survivor of the crash was another best friend who I’d known since our parents introduced us as two-year-olds.
I’ve been lucky enough to have a very tight-knit core group of friends that I’ve known since kindergarten. These were people that I’d seen almost every day of my entire life. They played a part in almost every memory I had of my childhood, good or bad. All of the growing pains, the life lessons, the awkward moments and the highs and lows of adolescence, we went through them together. And at that moment, at 19-years-old, having just jumped off of the legal ledge of adulthood (although we all know that mental adulthood comes much later…or in some cases, never) our youthful vigor and teenage invincibility was dealt an unbelievably crushing blow.
It’s crazy to me that even after having nearly two decades to reflect on what happened that day, I’m still at a loss for words at times and overwhelmed by them at others. Eighteen years later, words, thoughts and emotions swirl around like $100 bills in one of those cash grab phone booths. And it still feels like I’m standing here amidst the swarm, frantically reaching into a blur, hoping that something, anything, stays in my grasp long enough for me to make sense of it. Maybe that’s a byproduct of my vices or my ever-shrinking attention span, or maybe it’s because things like this never really make sense because they’re not supposed to. They just swoop down suddenly, knock life-as-you-know-it on it’s ass, and vanish before you even have time to ask them, “What the hell am I supposed to do now?”
These days I hardly need a reminder to realize that life is such a fragile, valuable and mysterious thing, especially since my Dad passed away in January of 2011. I mull over mortality and purpose and existentialism, daily, to a fault at times. September 18th always makes the gears inside my head grind a bit harder. It refreshes memories, good and bad, and renews the feeling/knowing that everything can change in a split second, for better or worse.
RIP Ryan, Arash and Bob.