Dear Role Model,
It’s been 75 days. 75 days of sadness, remembrance, forgiveness, and grief. Though it was inevitable, I never saw it coming. Your sudden absence shook the ground, destroying everyone in its path. Nobody ever thought that it would be like this. You were indestructible. Nothing and no one could ever break you. The first few weeks were hard. I can speak for everyone when I say that nothing was the same. Then people moved on, I moved on, and in my opinion, that makes it worse. Though we move on, that does not change the fact that you are not with us. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of you. I walk through the 200-wing hallway, seeing all of the different faces of students who have the luxury to attend school and I think, you deserve to be here. If I could have taken your place, I would have. You had a future ahead of you and it was snatched from under your feet. This prompt says to describe your role model. You are my role model. Since the day we met, I knew you were someone to look up to. Since then, I have tried my very hardest to be as amazing of a person as you were. You were and always will be my biggest inspiration. I’ll never forget my first impression of you; you were a thin, lanky young boy running down your basement stairs, wearing nothing but an old Nike shirt and plaid boxers. You didn’t seem to care that I saw you like that. You had nothing to lose. You were indestructible. You were a model student, athlete, citizen, and friend. Nobody could ever replace your presence. Though your life was far too short, your legacy and qualities will live on interminably through myself and my peers. You taught me how to run, how to enjoy rap music, and how to be a person - a good person. You had an impact on me, as well as thousands of others from all over who were lucky enough to have met you. I was lucky enough. I will never take that for granted. The day after you left, January 26th, Coach wanted to get the team together for a full practice. Boy was it a full practice. While we were all suffering through the middle distance ladder, you would have been lapping us. You would have been cheering us on to keep going. That is how you always were. Before the final sprint, Coach said you would’ve loved to be here and that we should finish this out for you. I couldn’t breathe a single bit of air the whole way to the finish because I was choking on my tears. I crossed the line and collapsed onto the turf, my entire team with me. I witnessed the people I looked up to, the team's influencers, break down. We sat there for what felt like days, crying. Sobbing. In that moment, you created a family. Most seniors would not generally talk to freshman, but because of you, that barrier was broken within our team. Coach always says it takes a village to accomplish anything and this year, you forged that village. Only you had the power to bring entire communities together to support each other, and after you left, that is what you did. On January 25th, hundreds of schools, teams, and towns reached out to Wyckoff to lend their support, and send their prayers. I can confidently say that whenever someone heard, said, or even thought of your name, the first thing they thought of was you natural kindness. Words cannot describe the emotion our community still expresses over your passing. I still grieve. I think I share that with everyone. I know you would have never wanted this much attention, but it is impossible to avoid with the great impact you left on all of us. My hope is that you are looking down on us and smiling, witnessing what you have created. I will always be proud to say I once knew you and I am honored to be a member of a team that you were once a part of. Just know that everything I do for the rest of my life, both on and off of the track, is done for you, Captain Ben.