To Matt Acra —
I never knew you, but I could have. You were born just one day after me — you in Connecticut and I in Missouri. You ended up in Columbia at the University of Missouri. Me too. You majored in engineering. So does my boyfriend. So did my brother. I get engineers, how they think. Were you going to graduate in May? I am. I could have known you.
My Advanced Writing professor handed out a photocopied page of the Tribune on Tuesday, and there you were. I didn’t give you much thought until James looked down and said, “Oh my God, it’s Matt Acra.” And there you were. Did you know James? He said he didn’t really know you, but kids in high school used to make fun of you, of the way you talked. Did anyone ever tell you you were better than that?
I remember the kids who got teased. I’ve often tried to reach out, to see the good in everyone. Everyone has good in them. I’m sure you had a lot of good in you, Matt.
At home, I looked at the newspaper page again and at the calendar. I missed your funeral. I never knew you, but I could have. I kind of wanted to go. The obituary said donations in your memory would go to suicide prevention. I don’t have any money, but I’ve known what it’s like to feel lonely. And hopeless. Matt, did you think life was hopeless?
Maybe I’ll look up where they buried you and bring a flower. Nice to meet you, Matt. I think you’ve made an impression on me. Goodbye, Matt. Maybe I’ll see you some day.
September 12, 1987 – February 11, 2010