I Remember Sunshine: The Dylan Schopp Memory
Losing a best friend is something hard for anyone to go through. It brings out emotions you never knew you had. It makes you wonder what life could have been like had this not happened. Above all, it makes you appreciate life and the time you spend with the people you love. It makes you remember the little things, like the weekend of my high school senior BBQ with my best friend, Dylan Schopp, who left the world too soon.
I remember that it was a Saturday afternoon in the final weeks of our senior year of high school, and per usual, I’m laying on the horn in the driveway of Dylan’s house, attempting to get him outside. With Dylan, nothing could ever be simple. After five dodged calls and two minutes of banging on my car horn, eventually I had to go knock on his door.
At the age of 18, this was just another day to us, except this day signified more then just a regular party amongst our friends and classmates. No, this was the end of an era and the beginning of a whole new life for most of us.
After picking Dylan up we made a pit stop at a Shell to grab some essentials, then we were on our way to our last hoorah as graduates of the class of 2012 at Cypress Bay High School.
When we pulled up, the mayhem was already underway, and the sight gave me the chills. A group of kids whom had grown up together since they were infants were now standing side-by-side reminiscing on the times they are about to put behind them. For most, they are headed off to college, where they would know little to nobody. For others, including myself, we were heading to an in-state school, where we had some friends and acquaintances already. Either way, going to college was a transition none of us were ready to take, but all of us were excited to make.
I remember the look of the park that day. Squirrels surrounded the abundance of trees that enclosed the plot of land we chose for this day. There were three or four wooden benches with built-in-the-ground barbeques in between them. The grass was cut fairly low, and there was flowers everywhere that bees swarmed. I remember one of my friends running from some that chased him. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the sun shone bright on that day. Everything was beautiful.
I remember standing around the moss-draped filled park, with flies everywhere, trying to eat our food, and the sun causing a dribble of sweat around my mouth. I was talking to one of my other best friends about the changes that awaited us all, Dylan in particular.
I remember talking about how Dylan and his girlfriend at the time looked so perfect and happy together, though they both knew their relationship was about to hit a standstill when they went to different colleges. Dylan straddled the bench, kissing and giggling with the girl he claimed he loved. The rest of the time, Dylan was like the Tasmanian devil, all over the place stirring up commotion whichever way he could. He was always the life of the party.
I remember the night before the barbeque staying up all night talking on the phone about his girl problems, his social life, and how going to Florida State was going to impact his future. I remember watching the sun rise that morning before we went to bed.
And I remember watching the sunset again together at the end of the barbecue.
I remember all these things because I’m standing here, in the exact same spot, watching it all develop before my eyes, as memories.
What was once strung with congratulatory banners is now caution tape. What was once voices cheering is now silent tears. What was once the sound of his contagious laugh is now the sound of ambulance sirens. What was once the pile of beer bottles on the ground we had finished are now the remnants of where his body last touched the ground.
Dylan said his last goodbye to the world at the same spot at which he had said his last goodbyes to his best friends of the class of 2012.
Dylan was an impulsive young man. He had approached me about joining the US Army multiple times throughout our two years after high school. I always pleaded with him not to with the sole reason that I never wanted to lose him as a friend. Ironic.
Two weeks prior to Dylan’s tragic suicide, he had officially enrolled in the US Army. A new start, a new hobby, and a new life awaited him. But, he just couldn’t let go of his past. Something haunted him.
Now something haunts me and the other people who love him. Why’d he do it? How did he get himself to do it? What could I have done? Why didn’t he say goodbye?
I remember talking to him the night before about a lingering problem that he couldn’t wrap his head around. He always looked to me for advice. I repeatedly told him to let it go. Maybe he took that the wrong way.
When I stand at Markham Park and replay the amazing time we had there and then think about why he did what he did, losing him will never make sense to me.
However, I take solace in knowing that for a kid who grew up with the nickname of “Sunshine,” for having the ability to light up any room he entered, I can feel Dylan’s presence every time I re-visit that spot. I can feel the sun shining on me, and I can remember all the times we spent together, good or bad.
In the end, I just remember. I remember Dylan “Sunshine” Schopp.
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