I just learned that John Osmann has passed away. I’m sad and can think of nothing else to do but reflect on how grateful I am to have had such a joyful person to grow up with.
My family moved down the street from John when I was starting first grade. It feels like he and I started hanging out within weeks, if not days, of our move. As I remember it, that first summer, we could usually be found in the field behind the Osmann’s house catching lightning bugs or playing in the dirt.
When we started riding the bus together, John and I would always sit near each other to make plans for what we were going to do after school. In the warmer months, we had forts to build, bikes to ride, and wars to re-enact. When it was cold, we would work on our video game strategies and plan our cartoon schedule. If there was snow, we would plan our sledding routes and snow forts.
John created stories for everything we played with. A stick would become a drawbridge, a pile of rocks would be the castle, and a hole in the ground would be the dungeon. Everything would get a goofy name, and the imaginary inhabitants would speak a ridiculous language. John brought the imagination and joy while I worried about “structural integrity” or authenticity.
John was fearless while I was full of fear. John would go head first while I wouldn’t let go of the brakes. John would always go first so I would know that I could do it too, and he would smile and giggle to remind me we were having fun.
I miss that smile, I miss that giggle, I miss my friend.