MURPHY'S LAW Being part of life’s mystery

By Patrick Murphy

Ever wonder what happens to people after they stop being part of your life?

Me too.

I was reading the obituaries in a paper last week and came across a name I did not recognize but he was in high school at the same time I was.

I contacted the one friend I still have from my high school days, and he also drew a blank on the name.

That led us down a rabbit hole of the names we remembered from high school and trying to check the Internet to see what happened to them.

We had very little luck.

I actually do not remember one name or face from my graduating class, and that is because we moved from Council Bluffs, Iowa, after my junior year, to Avoca, Iowa, (where Johnny Carson lived briefly).

I left Abraham Lincoln High School for AvoHa (a merger of Avoca and Hancock) High School, for my senior year. I had enough credits to graduate, but had to take a government class. Went to school half days for half a year, got an odd job, and waited for college to start.

The names my friend, Doug, and I were searching were from A.L., and neither one of us kept up with any of our fellow classmates except each other.

We were texting names back and forth, and came across another we knew who died back in 2014, but neither one of us recognized his obituary picture. Then again we graduated in 1980, so that was 41 years ago, and people can change a lot in that time.

Our texting went on for quite a while, mostly just name dropping and seeing what memories we had of these people.

Turns out we had few, vague memories of these people we shared classrooms with.

I went to a high school of about 1,000 students, so there were a lot of people I didn’t know.

Plus, schools that size have very defined cliques, and I was on the outside looking in at all of them, so was Doug, which is probably one of the reasons we became friends.

Unlike in smaller schools where every activity, club or organization needs a majority of students to be involved there were plenty of kids to get involved at A.L., and plenty of kids, like me, who just did their own thing.

I have come across a few pictures of former classmates, and most of them are not recognizable to me, but again, it’s been four decades, and I’m sure none of them remember me.

I think back to these “kids,” and they are frozen in time.

I have no knowledge of them graduating and going on to college or work or the military. I don’t know anything about their personal lives. My point of reference is them as teenagers, and it’s hard to imagine these “kids” grew up to become responsible adults with jobs, raising their children.

I would like to just get a print out of these people and their lives just to cure my own curiosity.

People fascinate me, which is probably what led me to journalism, so I’ve been thinking a lot about these people and what became of them.

That’s the part of life that’s a mystery. People come in and out of our lives. For a brief period of time they serve some role, we share the same space in high school for four years, but in time we drift apart, and lose track of them.

We end up relying on our memory and the Internet, and at some point you realize time has past, and that’s where these people will remain.

Patrick Murphy, editor-publisher of the Humphrey Democrat and Newman Grove Reporter in Nebraska, is a former assistant managing editor at The Telegram.