It was a rush of emotions I had never experienced in my life, and I did not know how to deal with it. The funeral and viewing of Keith Morgan was a defining moment in my life, because at that very moment, I experienced immense personal growth that completely changed the way I viewed life and acted towards other. My reaction at Keith’s body during the viewing only showed that death was evidently something I had never really had to deal with. It hit me hard, and hit me deep. Keith Morgan started middle school with me at Garcia back in 2006. He was always a great person: the kid who shared his lunch with you when you forgot yours at home.
The kid who patted you on the back and said “Don’t worry, it’s okay when you missed your free throws during practice. Keith was an overall beautiful person, with a personality I had seldom encountered in my life. He brightened up the whole aura of the school on a sad day; he was a flower spreading its young leaves out of the mud at the start of spring. In middle school, people constantly teased me because of my looks: being too chubby, having bad skin, just about anything people felt like pointing out to make themselves feel better. Too shy to ever stand up for myself, I usually just let the insults roll and kept quiet.
But, whenever Keith saw me being picked on or teased, he would always say something. Whether he gave me a shoulder to cry on or stood up to the people bothering me, he was always there. By the time I had entered high school, “growing up” had taken its place. And people really noticed. Keith took notice almost immediately. The day it became evident that he liked me was around October of freshman year, in 5th period debate. I spent nearly an hour complaining to him about a guy that I had been having problems with for almost a year. Keith told me that I was so much better than all the nonsense he made me put up with. I know,” I told him. “But I really like him and I know I shouldn’t put up with it, but I just do… ” “You need to be with someone who’ll treat you like you deserve. Maybe someone like me,” he confessed. When Keith had told me that, I just kept on talking as if I had never heard it, because I was afraid to let him know I didn’t think of him that way. I still feel like such a shallow person to judge him on the outside instead of the amazing personality he had. For the next year Keith and I talked less and less. We dwindled from friends to acquaintances.
Nonetheless, when my cousin, Victor, called me to tell me the news of his death, it knocked me down like an 18-wheeler slamming into an old compact. Boom. Boom. Shrack, POW. Gone. The phone suddenly heated up, sending little flames into my hands and burned my ear until I had to drop the phone. I cried for days, and stayed in my room sleeping because I did not want to face reality. I did not know how to deal with what had just happened; I had never had to before. Over the next couple of days, I thought about how I had let someone so amazing, slowly slip out of my life.
When I thought about how I had taken him for granted, I cried even more. The exact moment I stood over his lifeless body, I realized that half of the trivial things we worry about on a daily basis do not really matter in the scheme of life. I then knew that I had to stop being so stuck up: not talking to people that did not dress the way I liked, hang out with the type of people I did, or meet my ˜standards’. I felt disgusted with the shallow persona I had grown in to. I began to see so many faults in the way I thought and acted. It became noticeable to other when I actually started becoming a sensitive person.
That whole week following Keith’s death was a life-changing experience that I needed in order to grow. My first time dealing with death of a close friend was very difficult. However, I think it was exceptionally hard because of the fact that I had taken Keith for granted and overlooked all the wonderful qualities he had, all because he did not fit my criteria of a “perfect guy” at the time. The moment when I said my last words to Keith, at his funeral, helped me grow because it taught me the value of life, to look beyond looks and personal status, and to appreciate people for what is on the inside.