Dave reminds me of a tragedy our hometown suffered. Two of our middle school classmates, Devin and Mitch, and another boy a year or two older, Ray, went out in a snowstorm and got lost. Only Mitch survived.
I won’t pretend everyone at SSJHS was friends with everyone else; far from it. But growing up in a small town we had all known each other (in many, if not most cases) since Kindergarten or before. As individuals we’d had our share of loss. David mentions his paternal grandmother when he was nine; I lost my paternal grandmother and my mother when I was six. But Devin was the first classmate we had lost, the first time we faced mortality together, as 8th graders.
And like Dave, I still remember Mrs. Beckstead taking an interest in our class. I hope things have gone well for her since….