When I was 16 years old, one of my classmates was killed. He and another boy on a motorcycle were hit by a truck and they both died instantly. This was 30 years ago and we have lost more classmates since then than we should have at our young age, but Jeff was first. His death hit us the hardest. It took us a long time to get past it and for the remainder of our high school life, we kept Jeff with us, insisting that he have a memorial page in the yearbook and that in his memory, be our moment of silence on graduation night.
Today, after the dinner we gave our parents to celebrate their 48th wedding anniversary, Ami, Brian and I decided to go on one of our adventures. They had gone out Garden Valley way last weekend on a photo shoot and I was just willing to go anywhere that had a dirt road. We ended up at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church that not only has a dirt road but the most beautiful corn fields beside it as well as a cemetery to explore. And they mentioned something about a pond. So we walked around, watched the sun set over the church and scratched a few photo scavenger hunt items off our list. Since it was starting to get dark, we thought we'd go try to find the pond and then leave for home. We started walking over that way with me a few footsteps ahead when I literally walked up on Jeff's grave. I wasn't expecting it. I didn't even remember that he was buried there but a few seconds of clearing cobwebs brought my memory back and Pleasant Grove rang a painful bell. I said, "Oh my God, that's Jeff" and immediately started to cry. I was just caught so off guard that my emotions just took over. Ami asked if I was okay and I was, I asked her if she remembered what happened and she did. Brian didn't so I told him and told them both that I remembered Mama waking me up that Saturday morning, telling me she'd heard it on the Montezuma radio station. I remember saying to her, "But I just saw him at school yesterday." Well, he had also died yesterday.
After I told him hey and that we were 46 years old now and that we never forgot him, I took a picture of his grave and we walked on down to the pond, with me still crying. I've been very emotional lately. Comes with being almost 46 and hormonal, I think. We took a few pictures down there and then turned to walk back to our cars. Ami then noticed a bright white light directly over the church. It was like a spotlight, right in the middle of all that gray darkness. She said, "That's Jeff, telling you hey!" so I said hey back to him. :)
We stood there in awe as we watched that light move over the tops of the trees, over his grave and slowly ease out into a clearing, where we saw the most beautiful, amazing, incredible second sunset.
There is no camera in this world that could do justice to what we experienced but we tried. Here are the pictures I took during it.
The sky turned completely blue again and we just stood there in awe of it, me and Ami both in tears. It was the most beautiful, peaceful, spiritual experience I think I've ever had and we immediately recognized it for what it was. I was nostalgic, crying over the loss of a classmate 30 years ago and he was letting me know that he's okay and that he's been okay for 30 years. I thank God for letting me be there, right then, in that spot, to see that. I've never seen a second sunset and Ami even commented that she and Brian have photographed many, many sunsets and have never seen one like that. We were speechless. The streaks coming straight down from heaven were my favorite. I just wish my camera could have done it justice.
Speaking of my camera, this is pretty wild, too. My camera's battery had been going dead since we got there, before I even stumbled onto Jeff's grave, but it still let me take all these pictures. Even with the little red light flashing. It's never done that before. Crazy. Thank you, Lord, for that, too!!
Jeff is forevermore 16 years old. He'll never have gray hair or wrinkles or arthritis in his knees or any of the aches and pains that his classmates are starting to experience now. He's forever the goofball he was 30 years ago. And he's okay.
Continue to rest in peace, old friend. We'll see you again someday!