It's always sad when a Lancer dies. Usually it's someone we didn't know. It always hurts.
If we think about it, though, there is usually a commonality to be found, a detail that links us. A mutual friend, a Fullerton neighborhood, a college, a town we both lived in, a profession we both pursued, a church belonged to, a hobby enjoyed.
Even when we didn't know the person who died, it's likely we remember him or her, as a a Sunny Hills student, 15 to 18. We realize a lifetime has passed since the moment we remember seeing him walk across the Quad, since she hit a softball in the fields, or laughing and eating ice cream in the cafeteria. Riding a horse through the Gulch. Sitting in the loge seats at the Fox. Pumping gas at the Union 76 station by McDonald's. Ordering a pizza at Giovanni's. Dancing at the Teen Center. Working in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. Playing Workups at Golden Hill. Serving chicken dinners at Knotts. Sitting in a pew at St. Mary's. Riding a wave at Bolsa Chica. Eating a chicken drumstick at a Hillcrest Park picnic. Washing his car on East Hermosa Drive. Bagging groceries at The Pantry. Swinging a 2-wood at Fullerton Municipal. Listening to records at the Turntable. Ordering a patty melt at Hillside. Changing the sparkplugs of a 50s Chevy. Diving into a swimming pool.
In that span between then and now, in that lifetime you never knew about, there was probably college, time in the armed services. engagement, marriage, a first career job, a first child, moving from one town to another, a second child, vacations, books read, movies seen, illnesses, birthday parties, and all the rest until a Lancer's death.
We contemplate the eerie strangeness of time hurtling past, and also days and nights when every minute seemed to last a week. Heat wave nights.
No matter how sociable and gregarious we are, we never know more than a fraction of all Lancers.
There is an opportunity when Lancers are still alive. A potential we may see them again, shake their hands, embrace, or meet them for the first time.
Death comes like a thief in the night, Death cancels that opportunity and potential.
We always thought we'd see Stan Fuller again, or Trudy Stevens, or Charlie Hale, or Andy Sills or Matt Hacker, Jim Moon, Zona Bisko. Penny Kidwell, Joan Spurney. Whomever it might be that Death has snatched away.
When a Lancer dies.
We may feel the disquiet, the stirrings of a tribal loss. Someone who belonged to our group gone.
One of us.