I Learned His Name

-A true story-

I boarded transfer bus 77, and walked all the way the backseat, where I sat down next to my friend Justin. Across from me was a tall boy with shaggy hair that fell to his ears. He wore square-rimmed glasses, although I figured he didn't really need them. He reminded me of a nerd.

I didn't think much of it. He was just another kid, probably a freshmen, considering I had never seen him before. I paid no attention to him, and continued my day as if he didn't exist.

The next day, I boarded that same bus again, and walked to the back – to my regular seat with Justin. That boy was sitting across from me again.

"Guess who that is?" Justin pointed at the boy.

"I dunno who he is," I shrugged.

"I'm-" but before he could say who he was, Justin cut him off.

"That's Portia's brother!" I was surprised.

"Portia has a brother?" I asked. The boy smiled.

"Yup, that's me." Portia was a girl in my grade, and I had never heard of her having a brother.

From that day on, that's who I knew that boy as…Portia's brother.

At least up until November 9th, 2005. The night before, I had Behind the Wheel driver's training, and near the end, just after I had finished my parallel parking, an ambulance pulled up to the school. I had no clue what it was about. I thought perhaps it was wrestling, and I immediately thought of my friend, a senior who went to my church…who I also had a crush on. But I pushed the terrible thoughts that crept into my head away. Nothing horrible could happen, someone probably just had a silly accident.

The next morning, my grandma called, saying she had heard on the news that a wrestler from the school I went to had collapsed. My fears turned to my friend again, but then I figured if it was him, someone would have called us.

I went to school, and was talking to my friend about the boy who collapsed. She told me he died. I had to her it from her again. I was under the impression that he just had to be hospitalized.

"Poor Portia," someone said later that day.

"Poor Portia? Why? What happened to her?" I asked, confused.

"The boy who died…was her brother, Eli."

That is my story of Eli, the boy who's name I learned and remembered only after he died, at the age of 14. Life is often too short, and can not always be preserved.

Later on I found out, that two of my friends, one whom I worked with, had performed CPR for 12 minutes before the ambulance arrived and used the defibrillator that had been installed outside the gym just one day earlier.

Nothing can be as overwhelming as the death of someone so close to your age. And to think I had only known him as Portia's brother.

I beg all who read this, to remember Eli, and my encounter with him, and remember that death is not something that only happens to old people. Please, for Eli, make your life worth living.