I hadn’t spoken to Shawn Boner in 20 years, unless you count the occasional comment in a Facebook thread. The last time I saw Shawn was on the day of his – and my younger brother’s – high school graduation in 1996.
I remember feeling bad for Shawn that day. Two years earlier, he had a falling out with a popular group of friends. The rest of his high school career wasn’t a bundle of joy. Of course, having Boner as a last name didn’t help.
I’d forgotten about that until the advent of Facebook, when we no longer had to rely on reunions and websites like classmates.com to reconnect with the people we grew up with. If not for social media, I’d probably have no idea where Shawn was.
Though we were friends on Facebook, I really didn’t know what Shawn had been up to the last 20 years. I knew he still lived in Burlingame. I knew he’d finished up his associate’s degree.
What I didn’t know is that he had a heart attack recently. And if not for a text from my brother, I wouldn’t know that he died last week.
Shawn was 38 years old. It’s always shocking when somebody dies young. It’s incredibly sad when it’s somebody you grew up with.
Though Shawn and I hadn’t spoken in 20 years, I have fond memories of a guy who had a similar high school experience, that is of a shy, awkward, short and chubby kid. Those adjectives are not a recipe for a wonderful high school experience.
Nonetheless, Shawn was a friend to many. I remember vividly playing flag football in our yard and basketball at the park. It was two-on-two: My brother and Shawn vs. Troy Pennington and myself. Shawn was more athletic than you might expect.
I remember cruising the red brick road many of us grew up on in Burlingame. We typically listened to NWA, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg – all the songs the grown-ups in town loved.
I also remember that Shawn was a kind person. Based on my interactions with him on Facebook and the mentions on his Facebook wall this week, that hadn’t changed.
His death is a reminder to embrace our time here. Take nothing – or anyone – for granted. Be kind, like Shawn was.