I never thought I’d be making the trip homeward to say goodbye to a fellow classmate and friend today. We’re only 23 years old. We shouldn’t have to say goodbye yet.
I was at work when I heard the news. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I read the statuses upon statuses of sorrow and condolences. It was as if it was an April Fool’s joke in October. So many emotions flooded through my head in an instant. I was stunned, I called my mom, I started crying, I thought of the last time I’d seen her, what we talked about. It’s not real. It can’t be. I don’t think my brain is even capable of fully understanding and grasping the concept of death yet.
I hadn’t seen Aron for awhile. I think I saw her just a couple summers ago. I really wish it were sooner than that though. The revolving door of life and the directions we all go after high school alter our relationships with people. We evolve, we move on, we grow. The worst part about graduating and growing up was the inevitable fact that many people grow apart due to that revolving door. We go in different directions and before we know it the next time you reconnect, you’re both totally different people. You almost don’t even know each other. The difference with Aron was that although her and anyone she came in contact with chose separate paths to follow after walking down the graduation aisle, she was still there. She didn’t let the distance or life choices alter what she thought of you. The last time I saw her we talked as if we’d just seen each other earlier that day rather than months apart. “Hey, how ya doin’?!” she’d say. She was truly invested and interested in what was going on in everyone’s lives. It was never that awkward “I better say hi or I’ll seem rude” kind of thing. It was genuine and that was one of her best qualities.
I hate talking about her in the past tense, it’s not right. I first met Aron in 9th grade when I started school in Newfolden. She was one of the first people to ever come and talk to the “new kid.” We had our times as did many people. I remember going to her house or talking about cool tattoos that’d we get when we turn 18. I remember the bon fires and the fun we had walking around Viking. When I think back, I remember so many great times that she was a part of in my teen years. The most memorable time was probably when we went to a party. Yes, we probably shouldn’t have but when you’re 16, it’s as if you want to make your own rules. Even though that night was full of great times and a couple horrible moments, she still stuck by me. I’d gotten in trouble that night and was nearly alienated from the “friends” I had. But you know who called me the next day to make sure I was okay? Aron did. She was always there, she always cared.
Aron was a fun, go-getting, feisty, and absolutely remarkable teenager that grew up into a strong, fighting woman. She had a passion and she had dreams. She made her shoes too big to fill for a reason and that reason was to become the person that she wanted to be. No one was going to alter that path and she had more than achieved many of her dreams including defending our country and going to college thanks to her determination and willpower.
She showed people that compassion was a required quality in being a human being. She opened people’s eyes to be able to accept her brother just the way he was. She didn’t tolerate bullying or name-calling. She was, she IS his guardian angel.
I’ll never forget the moments, the memories, or the kindness that resonates when I think of Aron. Thank you for those moments, thank you for the service to our country, and thank you most of all for the warmth that you provided. Sending my deepest sympathy to Elaine, Austin, and Melissa. You all were part in helping Aron become the strong, empowering woman that she was. Prayers and love to each of you. She’ll be missed in the most tremendous of ways. Rest in sweet, sweet paradise, Aron Leas.