Rudy was seventeen.
A senior in high school.
Having fun with friends.
And very much involved in the game of basketball.
That was also the year that Rudy’s dad died.
In a tragic car accident.
Rudy, his parents, and two siblings.
Were living in the small beach town of Tela.
Enjoying a simple life.
His father came home.
Stating he’d been offered a job in another city.
7 hours away.
Can I stay here?
Live with Rolando?
His grandpa said it would be fine.
Rudy pleaded with his parents.
After much cajoling.
His parents agreed.
Knowing he’d be in good hands.
Several months later.
While watching TV.
Rudy was sadly told.
Your father has suffered in an accident.
Rudy just sat there.
Not sure what to think.
He walked outside.
In a daze.
Out of nowhere.
A family friend suddenly hollered.
I can’t believe it!
I saw it on the news!
Your dad died!
Rudy’s eyes grew wide.
His jaw dropped.
His hands fell to his knees.
Causing him to fall back onto his haunches.
His head fell forward.
Onto outstretched arms.
Splayed across kneecaps.
He was shocked.
He had misunderstood.
What he was originally told.
He thought his dad was seriously injured.
He spent the next hours in a stupor.
Not thinking clearly.
Trying to make sense of what he had been told.
Wondering, if possibly, there had been some kind of mistake.
That it wasn’t his dad that died.
He was rushed home.
To where his mom and siblings were living.
In the town of Tegucicalpa.
7 hours away.
In a yellow bus.
Was the longest drive of his life.
A long drive to a funeral.
The unexpected funeral of his father.
Who had died an untimely death.
Within the following few days.
Rudy had to make a heartbreaking decision.
Either return to school or stay with his mom.
To be by her side.
While she grieved the loss of her husband.
As hard a decision it was to make.
For a young seventeen year old.
He knew what he needed to do.
I need to go back, Mom.
I need to play ball.
To get my mind off this tragedy.
Of losing Dad.
His heart was breaking.
With every word.
As he told his grieving mother.
Knew he was right.
He needed to move on.
To help him heal from the family’s overwhelming sadness.
Back in Tela.
Back at school.
Rudy was overwhelmed.
With unwanted attention.
He decided he would simply have to deal with it.
When he walked.
With his head down.
Into the auditorium of his high school.
To watch a game.
Many people held his hand.
Hugged and consoled him.
Saying how sad they were to hear about the loss of his dad.
In the days that followed.
Days that seemed to last forever.
Rudy completed his academic school year as best he could.
Trying to stay focused on his school work.
While working through the grief of losing his dad.
And his constant concern for his mom.
A graduation ceremony was held in the gym.
At the end of his final semester.
Where he played basketball.
All the seniors were expected to attend.
As their last right of passage.
Into the adult world ahead of them.
Rudy didn’t want to attend.
Didn’t see the point.
With his dad having just died.
Only a month before.
He didn’t think he had what it would take.
To celebrate his accomplishments.
His mom, though.
She begged made him go.
Told him that he needed to close the final chapter.
Of his high school years.
Told him he’d regret it.
If he didn’t attend.
Full of grief.
Said he’d go.
For his mom.
Rudy’s emotions took over.
That’s all he could do.
After his recognition.
He walked with his mom down the aisle.
As she held on tightly to his arm.
Happy and sad.
Tears of joy for Rudy.
And tears for the death of her spouse.
Rudy could not.
Muster the courage to attend.
The after party,
So, he quietly took a deep breath.
And walked out the door.
Leaving his school days behind him.
Ending one chapter of his life.
Renewing a familiar one.
Being back home with his mom.