The Year of Mr. Renfrew

March 24, 2009
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“I don’t want to be in high school. It doesn’t seem fun, and it’s scary!” I said to my friend who was across the table from me. All of a sudden, a voice came out of nowhere. A tall man in a yellow jacket spoke. “It’s okay. You shouldn’t be scared, and it’s not that bad of a place. It could be a lot of fun. High school goes by very fast so don’t let it pass you by. Make sure you have fun and just keep it real.”
I looked up, confused, “What do you know?” I asked with an attitude.
“Welcome to Morgan. I’m Mr. Renfrew, and I’m your homeroom teacher, and I teach English,” he said as if he loved being in the run down school.
“Oh…Thanks. I’m Lauren. Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. It’s just I don’t like it here already, and I’m really nervous.”
“It’s okay, Lauren; it’s nice to meet you. I’m sure you’ll be fine here. You just have to get used to it. The schedule and the classes can get a bit over-whelming, but I’m sure you can handle it”
I needed that comfort. His kind words made my day better. I was not so scared and nervous. I knew I was going to be here for the next four year, and he was right. It would be okay, and I probably would get use to it. The next couple of weeks were rough, but Mr. Renfrew was very reassuring. It would only get easier as each year passed. Every day in homeroom he would talk to us and make us laugh. He told us about his life and the journeys he made. He said he loved being a teacher because he loved being around the students and making them happy. He wanted to shed a different light on human life. He sure did, and he was damn good at it too. He was the most down to earth teacher I ever met. I would not be the student I am today without that first eight months of homeroom.
Mr. Renfrew was a Buddhist; he had lived in Thailand for a couple months and became a monk. He practiced their ways and did what they did; he was a good monk from what he used to tell us. He loved life and always lived like it was his last day, never any worries and no doubts he just loved the fact that he was alive and well. Who could not be, after all, he could speak other languages, had a beautiful Thai wife and he loved his job. He fell in love with Miss. Thailand! She was extravagant, and he would always talk about her and how amazing she was. I do not think any of us minded at all because they were the cutest couple we had ever seen. They'd only been married for a short time before the tragic day came.

I will never forget the message I received on my cell phone; “Mr. Renfrew died this morning”. I thought the person who told me was lying; after all it was April 1st, national April fool’s day. I said, “Yeah, right... That's not a nice joke dude.” When they told me they were serious I started crying, I could not hold it back. He was my favorite teacher and after all, he helped me in the first 8 months of my high school career. He was the perfect teacher and I never would have expected to hear a man of 27, dead because of a fatal car crash. When I walked into school that Monday morning, it felt like there was an overwhelming black cloud above The Morgan School. There were tears everywhere I turned, whispers and people not knowing what to do. I walked into homeroom, into a room that could not have been stranger that day. I had never seen my classmates upset before; teachers and councilors were waiting for us. We did not want to talk; we all just cried. His coat, the one he always wore, a yellow, long coat, still hung in his back room; his bike was still there too. It felt like a bad dream, and I just wanted to wake up. We looked at his pictures and the can vs. monster truck he had made after we brought in cans.
Since then, his memory is always honored every April 1st with a moment of silence for the man that made everyone’s day better. High school was never the same since that day; I still miss him and wish he was here. I wish I never had to see him lying so cold and pale in the coffin. I will never forget my freshman year of high school and how he made me feel comfortable walking the hallways. Never will I forget his smile or how he talked in Thai or how he loved riding his bike.
To this day, I still visit the site. There is the bare tree where the car first impacted, further up another tree and a boulder. When I went there the day after the crash, it was horrifying. I saw bits and pieces of his car. I took a piece of his tail light. I will never forget looking down and moving a pile of wet leaves and finding a bloody glove…I knew what it was from, and I knew whose blood it was; that is when I broke down. They tried to save him there on the scene, but his neck snapped from impact, and his head injury was fatal; he died before they got him to the ambulance. My friend and I put candles and things we made on the tree for him. Around the site there were millions of pieces scattered everywhere, pieces at least ten feet away. He was not even going that fast; it was just too slick for his car, and he hydroplaned into trees and a boulder. I’ll never forget everything I experienced with him.
Rest in Peace Mr. Renfrew.





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