In Memoriam: Nick Bachhuber

News of a death from one’s high school class trickles in slowly; first from one stray friend and then another, none of us his intimates and all with our own sources, and then confirmed through a dive into the social media world where it sits alongside random minutiae in other lives temporarily untroubled by sudden loss. It is a jarring experience, one in which I trade some laments and feel momentarily helpless and then do what I always do, which is start to write a few things to make sense of it, and in this case choose to share them in the off chance that they help a few others find that sense, too.

It has been years since I last saw Nick Bachhuber, but he lingers in my mind’s eye as a truly genuine human, a piece of praise I do not dole out lightly. He was beloved by his classmates, outwardly easygoing and willing to connect with anyone, curious and thoughtful in all he did. Nick lost his dad while we were in high school, an absence that haunted him. (We children who knew tragedy could see it in one another.) Out of that, I think, came a depth of character that emerges through adversity, a layer of thought that can provide an added well of richness to strengthen certain interactions. With that he set off for college in Chicago, for Teach for America in Detroit, for a series of steps outward and eventually into a life with a wife and a son and a second on the way before it all came to a sudden halt. He packed so much in to so little time, a raw intensity of experience channeled through him and into his works.

Nick is not the first of my high school classmates to pass, but losing that vivacity and richness of soul is a particular hit. That feeling is underscored as I find myself more and more enmeshed in my hometown, where I watch as some other kids at the same high school form those same ties my classmates and I once did. I am now left to wonder how the march of time will flow through their friend groups, which once fond memories will take on an elegiac tint too soon. Nick’s loss now can only be a reminder of how much every passing moment counts and how long these connections last, even when they stem from experiences long ago in a world half remembered, their peaks and valleys smoothed into a few clean, defining moments. Perhaps our minds know what they are doing, picking out the highlights and giving them back to us as fondness for what was and fuel for what can yet become.

Nick’s coronation as Mr. East, 2008.

A memorial fund is available here.

Nick’s high school story was somewhere in my mind, among other influences, when I penned this short piece of fiction a few years ago.

Rest in peace, man, and know we are all still here for you.

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