Class Clown

December 3, 2009
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The music in the background slowly fading, until its only a bare murmur. Mom’s lips are moving, but the words can’t be heard. It’s like my brain has a mute button that accidentally got pressed. All I know, is that this perfectly sunny day now feels so very out of place.


Typical Sunday afternoon attempting to clean the living room, but getting distracted by singing and dancing to whatever song is playing on KLOVE. All I want to do today is have fun before going back to the fifth grade after Thanksgiving break. Every time the phone rings I bug mom to find out who is on the other end of the conversation. “Shhh!” Is the only response I get when the phone rings this time. Tears begin to fall from her eyes and anxiousness arises. “Mom…what, what’s wrong,” I choke. The words come out, but I can’t process them. Gun. Tanner. Safety button. Truck. Dead. Wait! What?! This has to be a mistake, my brain must be filtering this wrong. Knees weak, heart sinking, this is no mistake. Sunday, November 30, 2003, Tanner A. died in a hunting accident.


My mom explains that for his eleventh birthday Tanner’s grandfather took him hunting. He got excited about going to chase a deer and decided to climb in the bed of his grandpa’s truck. When he went to pull his gun up, he had forgotten to put it on safety and the trigger got caught. BOOM! Gun fired, Tanner’s shot. She said he died before they got him to the hospital.


Tanner, the class clown-the boy who could cheer you up no matter how upset you were, is gone. The boy who mocked the teacher in science, making class fun. He was different from the other boys-rarely mean to others. He was always laughing and joking around with everyone. Rarely do you meet someone with a personality like the one Tanner had. His joyful and goofy attitude lit up a room when he walked in. Whenever you talked to Tanner or saw him, you were always left with a smile.


Monday, nothing is normal. Counselors are rushed in, and all of the fifth graders and teachers are gathered in one classroom. Everyone’s crying. I try not to, I try to hold the salty tears back. But my tear ducts betray me and start to overflow, going into overtime to produce all the tears they can. This can’t be happening. This is just a misunderstanding. He’s just sick, he’ll be back when he gets better. Or he’s still out of town for Thanksgiving, but he’ll be home tomorrow. Talk of the upcoming funeral says otherwise. Why does this have to happen to Tanner? He was only in the fifth grade. God why are You doing this?! So many unanswered questions. We are told everything happens for a reason and that it is going to be okay. How do you know? How do you know everything’s going to be fine? The day goes on and we all stay in that one classroom, crying and talking. Remembering the good times we had with Tanner. Stories are told and even a few laughs exchanged. Even the kids who didn’t like each other were crying together and reminiscing. Even though he is gone, Tanner continues to make a difference in others lives.


His visitation is the first one I’ve ever been too. My mom told me not to look in the casket, that it’d be best not too. I can’t help myself, I walk up there with a few friends and take a peak. He has his hunting outfit on: camouflage jacket, orange vest, boots. He looks so puffy and swollen. This isn’t Tanner, they’ve made a mistake. This looks nothing like him. Once again my tear ducts begin to work and tears flow unstoppable from my puffy eyes. I’m grabbed and pulled into a big group hug with my classmates. We can get through this.


His funeral is also the first funeral I’ve been to that I can actually remember. There’s so many people of all different ages. I go with a few friends and one of their moms. We sit together near the back of the big, but packed, church. Music is played, pictures are projected onto a big white screen. Tanner, so happy and carefree-as a baby, a toddler, a preteen.-playing football and laughing with family. I’m sure everyone in this church has lost it and are in tears, but not me. For once my tears just won’t come. They carry his casket out of the room and everyone gets up to leave. We go to the burial sight and they lower him in. Heart sinks and my salty tears finally make their presence known.


It’s been almost six years now since he’s been gone. Every November 30 the Springhill fifth grade class of 2003-2004 wear pins with Tanners picture on it to honor his life and the memories that were made. He may be gone, but he will never be forgotten. My life was changed that day my mother told me Tanner was gone from earth. However, I look forward to seeing him again, the day my Father calls me home for eternity.





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