I don't do well in social situations, and I wasn't looking forward to seeing some of the people I had gone to school with. I became a wallflower from the time I started school as a form of defense. If you can be forgettable enough you can largely escape the bullying. At least it worked for me most of the time. Today I realized it worked a little too well perhaps.
Standing off on our own, Tony and I watched the crowd for a while. I recognized one boy from high school (who had been mean to me), and another guy I vaguely recognized. Everyone else there seemed to be older, likely family friends as both of Josh's parents were teachers (retired). As we stood awkwardly just outside the threshold of the second room where everyone was chatting in small groups, an older woman came out and stood next to us. She asked if we were family friends, and I told her I had gone to grade school with Josh. She seemed to light up and told me she had been a teacher at Lowell and remembered our class. She asked if I had been in the advanced program with Josh and I told her I had. She asked my name, and then proceeded to tell me she remembered Josh's class, but she didn't remember me.
I guess I really was as forgettable as I tried to be to escape my tormentors. This is not the first teacher to tell me they don't remember me... One of my absolutely favorite teachers in high school didn't remember me either when I introduced her to my daughter this last fall. I know that I'm not anything spectacular, and that I pass as nondescript and forgettable. This is how I've largely gone through my life - a wallflower for all intents and purposes. But when someone specifically brings is up that I'm forgettable, admittedly it does hurt a little.
We did manage to step into the crowded room, but one guy kept looking at me funny. I didn't recognize him, he made no attempt to approach me, but he kept staring at me. I'm not used to being noticed, and in the absence of any friendly faces to talk to, I decided I'd stayed long enough. I signed the guest book, took one of the memorial papers, and off we went.
I left the gathering feeling hurt. Not just at the loss of an old classmate - someone I had literally grown up with, but for the loss of a piece of my childhood, and for realizing how invisible I had really made myself throughout not just my childhood, but now into my adult life as well. I joked with Tony, at least at my funeral you won't have to buy many cookies for the gatherers. There won't be many who remember me. Alas, I wonder if that's due to the quiet life I want so badly. Do private people who lead quiet lives have active social lives and big funerals? Probably not. Josh, on the other hand, was always popular, people naturally loved to be around him. He was smart and funny and could connect to people seemingly effortlessly. I wish I'd have stayed in contact with him, but chances are he wouldn't have recognized or remembered me anyway. :(
Rest peacefully Josh. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who are going to miss you terribly. I'm sorry that you felt that you needed to do this to escape your torment. You were the one kid in our class that I was absolutely sure was just born to be someone incredibly special. I guess that's what makes your loss that much harder to fathom. You did some amazing things, and clearly you touched a lot of people on your journey through your life.
I'm hoping with this funeral behind me, I can start to get back on track. It's been a rough week, and I need some happiness to bring me out of the dark.