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{July 2010}They remember.
 It has been four years since Nate left earth. My friend Nate was 20 when his heart stopped.

I wrote about how he inspired me as a teacher here — the day before he died, completely oblivious to what the next 24 hours would hold.

I wrote about it raw here.

I wrote about how he impacts the way I parent here.

I wrote about how he influences me as a writer here.

I used to worry that Nate would be forgotten. As time marches and the world turns, people would forget. I worried about my kids forgetting. I worried about the community forgetting. I worried about me forgetting.

It was a ridiculous worry.Nate lived life too big to be forgotten.

Yesterday, in the pool, Hannah worked on her stroke. She bobbed up from the lap, lifted her goggles, and said, “Was that better?”

“Absolutely. How did you figure out what to change?”

Hannah wiped water from her nose. “I thought about the things Nate used to say to me. I remember his voice when I’m underwater. Sometimes it’s almost like he’s there whispering to me.”

Then there are times when Sam changes a name to make it boyish. Jordan-rita or Dad-rina will be called throughout the house, followed by a little chuckle. If you call Sam, Samantha in return you will be rewarded with an all out laugh. Then a breath of silence. In that moment, his voice rings true, “I miss Nate-ella.”

He remembers the way Nate teased him.

Stephanie points to the picture on our fridge of Nate the day before he died. It’s one of those shots that is so Nate. His telltale smirk and his relaxed attitude.  It’s smudged from small fingers, but I don’t ever tell them hands off.  Steph says to Jay, “You would have really liked Nate. He teased us. He was always taking my doll and then I’d chase him. He liked that.”

“Who was he?” Jay asked.

“Well, he started as Mom and Dad’s friend, but he liked us so much he became our friend too. Nate liked me even if I threw a fit.”

It’s impossible to forget someone who makes you feel special. Nate was there in the most difficult years of my life. He’d show up and play in the yard with the kids. He’d park his Camaro at the bottom of our icy driveway and bound up the front yard through snow drifts. He’d open the door, calling, “I couldn’t make it up the Driveway of Death.” Then he’d settle into his spot on the end of the green couch and pop the recliner.

I close my computer screen.
Andy mutes the game.
Nate tells another story.
Laughter nourishes my fragile soul.

The memories cut sharp, but story is always worthy of a celebration.


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  1. This is a beautiful celebration Ruth. And a wonderful reminder for me to celebrate the people like Nate in my own life.
    I may be missing something, but I can't find the add your link button at the bottom of your post today.

  2. Your words keep Nate close by. What an awesome person to be a part of your life, even though it was too short of time.

  3. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story…and for letting us celebrate with you. How lucky you were to have known Nate!

  4. Such a beautiful story. I read it, cried and immediately sent the link to my dear friend, Stevi, whose forty year old son, Dean, died of brain cancer a couple of weeks ago. Thank you!

  5. Your words bring Nate back to life. He lives on through the memories and through the pieces of him that have made their way into the hearts of those he loved. I came across a mantra today that made me think of you and might be just right for this post about Nate, too: ” Let nothing go uncelebrated.”