I just read a very moving story posted at http://othejoys.blogspot.com/2008/02/since-youre-gone.html . It's the kind of story that leaves you thinking for a long time afterwards. It brought up an old memory of my own...
Way back in 1975, when I was a junior in high school, a boy in our class was killed in August, just before the start of our senior year. He was driving a tractor in a field, too close to a drainage ditch - one wheel of the tractor went down, the tractor rolled over on top of him and killed him.
I had known him since elementary school; we said hello to each other but weren't friends, per se. But he was a nice boy, and very smart - the type who would have gone on to make quite a mark in this world. His death haunted me for years afterwards, and every August I thought of him, and thought of his parents and how they must be feeling.
About 20 years after graduation I was visiting with an old friend from high school and I told her how Scott's death affected me. She suggested I write his parents a letter. (I was living in another state).
So I looked up his parents address on the internet, then sat down and wrote them. I told his folks what a great student and good person he was. I told them how I thought of him, and of them, every August. It was late July when I wrote and mailed my letter.
I received the absolute nicest letter from his mother. She shared memories of Scott, and what his loss meant to her family. She filled me in on her daughter's life (their only remaining child), and what a joy the grandchildren were. She told me how they were so grateful to think that a classmate still thought of him.
It moved me to tears. I still have her letter, tucked away.