I taught Garrett Reid in a summer school class at Montgomery County Community College around 2004 or so, tutoring him out of class for about ten hours in macroeconomics, if really trying to figure out what the real problem was, which I am so sorry to say that just I couldn't do.
He was a funny kid though, with a big goofy sense of humor to match his six foot five or six frame. We had a deal about him doing the tutoring after the first test... . He was a basically good kid I wished well for, and am so sorry he's not with us anymore, if I bet there are a lot of people who did like his sense of humor too, and who therefore will have fond if saddened memories of him.
It hit me like a ton of bricks when that problem was revealed, something that didn't occur to me, although looking back, when he said... he was a funny kid, so tall, and if a bit of a smartass, it was nice to have him in class, if of course he wasn't always there, something we had a contract about when i tutored him... .
It's funny when you see something like that in the papers, when you actually know the kid, and it's a very different thing as to "I just hope things work out o.k, judge not that ye not be judged."
I remember Garrett fondly, if sadly that I coudln't do more good, if I liked our time together in our tutorials.
We don't of course know how Garrett died, and it doesn't really matter, other than as to a fact of life, and death, that is too easy to forget sometimes, namely that children sometimes predeceases their parents, which is the unspeakable grief Andy Reid now has to share with a lot of other people, teachers too, if not like parents.
Teachers don't like their students to die either.
Brian from Wawa won't be remembered like Garrett, and it kills me I can't ever remember his last name, although I can see his face still, as people not really dying. Brian and Kristen, first love at the Wawa.
Brian trained me to be a CSR at Wawa, and did so very well.
I never got to teach Brian at Delaware County Community College where he was working his way through school. He was such a hard worker at Wawa, and as a "student" would ask me questions about various classes, and got to call me Don instead of "Mr. Rich," since he had seniority on me at the Wawa.
I remember the last time I saw Brian, loading up supplies from the Frazer Wawa to shuffle over to the Route 100 Wawa, good hardworking kid, about to turn 21.
That was his last birthday, and day.
Fortunately, Kristen, who even if they weren't then dating still had such a tie and who had a sadness about her for a while, started looking happier again as time passed too, as time heals all wounds, if it leaves marks too.
But fortunately and not, one thing Andy Reid can know is that he isn't alone in the world as to having had to oulive a son, or share the grief around such an event.
When something like that happens as with Garrett, it brought back memories of Josh Hadradaba from Birmingham, Alabama, and Billy Hammond and Charlie Hard too, as to grief about such a thing not being alone in this world.
The last time I saw Josh, there he was, asking puckishly to play poker with his mom Jennifer's friends. Over the years, I saw Josh from baby to toddler to teen.
We had done the same thing as he had at that age, but were a little hesitant letting him in the poker game as to now being the "adults."
We eventually let him and Ham play, two kids ready to go off to college, futures seemingly bright, who only a few months later would be in a car crash, Josh dying, Ham driving the car and living, and living with that, and his Mom Jen too.
Forgiveness is easier said than done, as is finding your peace with such grief, which is all that matters in such a thing. Maybe that's one point, the other being not to judge other people's lives too harshly, lest that judgement be meted out to you, like someone said once.
Charlie my uncle was 19 when he came to wish me happy birthday. Hardwoking kid, a lot like Brian, and who died with a friend driving that night.
Billy Hammond at age 14 was playing near a power line with friends on dirt bikes, when there was a dare to climb the tower, teenagers not understanding the reality of the hiss of those wires.
As to what I learned from this sort of thing, it was mainly from Billy, as to there being a reason, even if one we don't like as to God's Will.
I remember so well when Chuck Alexander ran across the street and into the house without knocking screaming "Billy's dead, Billy's dead!"
My grandmother Coff was so calm, and gave him a hug, and took my grandfather aside for a minute.
I was seven, and didn't really understand, although when my grandmother had jumped into another set of clothes to go see her sister, who wasn't answering the phone, and Butch took me out into the backyard to do some yardwork, and explain that to me.
He said something like, "Donny, there's not a good way of saying this except to say it, which is that Billy is died today."
I was so mad at God, until then having a childlike faith, and screamed something about "Why did God let that happen?"
Butch told me something in the backyard that always stayed with me, along the lines of "You're going to see a lot of tragedy in life, as that's a part of it. Sometimes, you won't like what God does, or allows, if the older I've gotten, the more I can see there was a reason, always a reason, sometimes twenty or thirty years later. That doesn't mean you will like it, but understand, which is peace of mind."
What he didn't say, as maybe he thought it was over my head, is that just because there is a reason doesn't mean that the people bad things happen to were bad, but in fact sometimes exactly the opposite, as that's the point in some general sense, that we're all in this world together, which ultimately I saw with Billy Hammond's death, if almost 30 years later.
So Andy Reid's not alone in grieving such a thing as Garrett's early death, for whatever reason that was not really mattering, and which is sad, as he was a funny kid our one summer school class and tutorials, and was I think probably being watched over by Reid as to working around the Eagles, as to people trying to do the right thing, if we don't always get to know what that would be, if you'd of course rather not that have to be the nature of things, except that it's not really our Universe in the end, but God's.