Brian Glenn was 17. One year older than me and about to graduate this school year. We didn't go to the same school, his was about 15 minutes away from mine, and in all honesty I had no idea who he was until about a week ago when it seemed all of Virginia was looking for him.
On Monday October 1st he was officially classified as "missing" in the state of Virginia. For one week, this varsity football player had disappeared without a trace. His car was found in his school's parking lot, but Brian was nowhere to be found. His name began trending in the Fairfax area on Twitter as schools across Virginia banded together to #findBryan.
And in one week, after searches and hundreds of fliers sent out, his body was found a few feet away from his car in Thaiss Park -- dead.
As I said, I didn't know him. I only knew his name for a week; his entire existence for only one week. Yet, when I found out the outcome my heart dropped, and I just sat there, mouth agape, and empty.
He's a teenager, my age, my generation, and even at 17, only a kid. We have this notion as teenagers that we're invincible and on top of the world. We can beat anything and everything and we like to think nothing brings us down. I guess I had this belief, like every other kid that retweeted and posted statuses on Brian, that there wasn't a chance that he wouldn't come back home. It was going to be a happy ending in a week. One week and everything was supposed to be OK.
But, it wasn't. Brian didn't come home. The world moved on and the happy ending never came.
That's when I realized the truth.
We sometimes forget the harshness of the real world. We live in this perfect bubble, where the hardest things we go through is finishing all the homework we're assigned in time or having to take the bus when everyone else can drive. We get so caught up in that bubble that we forget there's an outside world -- the real world. A world that doesn't have happy endings all the time, or protects all of the kids out there. A world that doesn't care who you are sometimes, or the people praying for your safety, and for your future. A world that moves on even after someone dies, as their parents are the only ones who can never let go.
It's been almost a week since Brian died. This kid I didn't know, and not once saw and yet I couldn't let go. My innocent and ignorant bubble burst.
For the past few weeks, I've been preoccupied by my classes, and clubs and what will look good for college and my future never thinking I might never have the opportunity to fulfill it. I don't know what happened to Brian, and I honestly don't know if I want to know. It doesn't really matter. A kid so close to graduating and fulfilling his opportunities and finally live his "life" wouldn't be able to. And it hurt; it hurt a lot. I don't know why. I'm so preoccupied with the life I want to have, the life I forget I'm not necessarily guaranteed to have. I might be a teenager and I might feel invincible and feel as if I could take on the world. I might wish to hurry and grow up and finish high school and finally become an adult. But, I've never stopped and thought what if I'm not guaranteed it or think of how I'm fulfilling the life I have right now at this very moment.
I'm sorry, Brian. I really am. Whatever happened, whatever dreams you had, and whatever experiences you went through. I'm sorry and feel guilty that it had to come to this for me to realize reality -- to realize my bubble.
Most importantly, I'm sorry if you never got to reach you opportunity and do everything you wanted to do. I guess we have to believe there's a heaven, right? And I hope, I really hope you're OK up there.