On July 6, 1990, a high-school friend shot himself in the head with a rifle in a nearby local baseball dugout. The act shocked and saddened everyone, especially his parents, of course, who did not want to believe their only son would take his own life. The days that followed his death were happening, for me, as if in a dream.
Fearing this act would spark some sort of “chain reaction,” the school counselors were sent in to help the students grieve and discuss their feelings of loss. Days went by and there seemed to be a cloud of despair and confusion hanging over our entire high school class. If he had lived, my friend would have graduated from high school with the rest of us that same year. When he died, he was two months away from his 18th birthday.
About a week after his suicide, I was visiting my best friend at the time, we’ll call her Anne, in her home. We were both still very affected by the death of our friend and we began to talk late into the night about his possible reasons for taking his own life and how crazy and unexpected it was. We had been discussing the whole chain of events and basically trying to make sense of something we could not even imagine, when I suddenly became very uncomfortable talking about our deceased friend.
I was sitting at the time in a desk chair across from Anne who was sitting comfortably on her bed facing me. She was looking directly at me and could see the discomfort on my face. She assumed I was just overreacting and our discussion had gotten to me, so she stood up and moved toward the door of her bedroom and gestured in a sweeping motion with her arm for me to follow her into the kitchen down the hall. There was a single small desk light on behind me when she made this motion with her arm, so that when she moved, her body created a shadow on the wall.
This is going to sound ridiculous, and I am no Physics expert, but when Anne swept her arm up into the air, gesturing me to follow her, her shadow did not follow her arm. Instead, there was a strange kind of delay and I saw her arm move, and about 5-10 seconds later the shadow of an arm moved, mimicking the same gesture she had just made.
I of course, thought my eyes were playing tricks on me and ignored the mysterious shadow. And I would have kept it to myself if only Anne had not turned to me and asked, “Did you just see that?” I answered, “Yes!” and we fled out of the room and into the kitchen. Anne’s house was large and our frightened voices bounced off the columned walls, but nothing ever occurred after that.
My friend Anne and I no longer speak and I am sure that if she knew I was relaying this story to strangers, she would think I was crazy, but I remember the death of our high school friend as if it were yesterday and I can’t help wishing that the shadow we saw was indeed a sign from our friend, but I will never be sure. I write this story in his memory and in the hope that he is in a place where his problems have all been taken away.