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Ruth’s SOLS: Nate

Nate (1990 - 2010)

Less than 24 hours after eating gummy worm brownies with Nate, Andy and I found ourselves standing in a hospital room with his family. Although Nate was young and strong, he had a weak heart. On Saturday he was doing some back flips off a boat and had a hard time catching his breath. He passed away on the way to the hospital.

What kind of slice do I write about that? And why do I feel compelled to share this personal slice of my life with this very public community, most of which I’ve never met, nor comment? I just know you are out there and reading because our stats show more than a thousand people read every day.

I think the slice of life is this: Life is fragile. Share your story with others. Listen to the stories of the people you care about. Take time to sit down, brew a cup of coffee, and talk about all the stuff that doesn’t seem to matter. That’s what our friendship with Nate was about. We talked about music and college and friends and tattoos and family and whether vegetables really needed to be eaten. Somehow all of that nothing bubbled into something. What was left was a special friendship. Our lives are richer because of Nate and I’m thankful to have taken the time to just be together.

Who should you sit down and talk with today? Trust me the housework and errands and the list of “to-do’s” can wait. Sharing our stories with one another can’t.

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

21 thoughts on “Ruth’s SOLS: Nate Leave a comment

  1. Ruth:

    Back from vacation. Was not happy to read this Slice of Life, especially after reading that wonderful piece about Nate’s ability to teach swimming to children. What a crushing loss for his family, you, and your entire community. I’ll call you tomorrow to see how you’re holding up.

    Stay strong,
    Stacey

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  2. Ruth,
    This is heart wrenching. I had to look at the previous post to make sure -and then my heart dropped. I loved that post–I loved hearing how Nate taught swimming.I remember thinking what a wise and discerning teacher he was, even at 20. What a gift (to all of us) to be able to learn from him.

    Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. My thoughts are with you all.

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  3. Through you, Nate has passed on some life lessons that many adults never quite get. He may have only been twenty but his examples were that of someone much older. When a former student died at the age of 21 I took solace knowing he had lived a life that was very full, had seen much that needed to be seen, experienced things many older people will never experience, and loved more than many will ever love. Nate’s gift to you and your family will live forever. Thank you for sharing Nate with all of us so we too may pass on his experience, knowledge, and love.

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  4. This made me cry, Ruth. Life is so fragile. The anniversary of my cousin’s death is next week so memories have been creeping up for me. I hope Nate was able to know the things he taught the world while here on his short visit.

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  5. Ruth,

    What a moving post. I was shocked to see it after just reading your post yesterday. What stuck with me from that post was your first line, “Although this post isn’t what I intended to write today, it is the post that needs to be written today.” That post captured him well, and it was a wonderful tribute to him!

    Writing can be so powerful in a time of grieving. When my sister was in junior high, one of her best friends died unexpectedly and my sister wrote a poem about her. It meant a lot to her parents. It seems like grief is often a perfect time to utilize writing as a gift. I wonder if this is because writing can have so much more meaning that something material at a time when the material just does not seem so important anymore.

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  6. Ruth,
    Your story is a reminder to all of us that tomorrow is not promised. This story should cause us to ask ourselves, “How will I be remembered?” Is it the to-do lists we couldn’t complete, the cleanliness of our homes, the types of cars we drove, or will it be the time and conversations we have with our loved ones?

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  7. Ruth,
    So much life left to live when a young person dies. Your slice was a beautiful tribute to your special friend, Nate. About an hour I spent time with my son Nate (same age-born in 1990. Thank you for reminding me to treasure the time even when his visits are short and thank you for enriching my life from afar. Maybe some day our paths will cross. Take care.
    ~Theresa

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  8. Thank you for sharing this slice. Life is fragile. Too often we forget, then something like this happens to remind us. It makes one step back and assess what is valuable.

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  9. Ruth – I am speechless and so very sorry. Your posts matter to so many of us. Thanks for sharing, connecting and reminding us about what is important in writing and in life. Keep doing what you do best – just like Nate did.

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  10. Ruth,
    As I sit here reading your post tears blur my vision, and then come in great heaping sobs. It has been a particularly hard year for my family, loss of a father and other loved ones. Financial worries. Friends have lost their jobs, and like so many other teachers I worry about enrollment, funding, and my job. Last years’ class left me a little worn and frazzled wondering if I should even be teaching. Then I read your slice, and I think, I am so blessed. I have a son the same age as Nate, healthy, happy and in college. I have a daughter that is a swimmer, on the swim team, and gives swimming lessons. And I have a classroom to go back to in a few weeks, and the ability and chance once again to make a difference in a child’s life, and for them to make a difference in mine, as you have made a difference in my life today. Thank you. Nate continues to touch lives and teach through your words, and sharing.

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  11. Ruth – I finally sat down to read Slice of Life today, grinding through a tough day, feeling sorry for myself. When I read this it touched my heart of course. Life is so precious. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up in your own darkness of stresses that you forget about the important things. Life, living, hoping. It sounds like your friend Nate taught you and others a lot about life. I am so sorry to hear about your loss, and I thank you for sharing.
    I also loved your previous post comparing swimming lessons and writing. I’m going to print it out.
    Thank you for these slices.

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  12. Ruth,
    I have been following you for at least a year and, while I L.O.V.E. your posts, I rarely comment. I have to comment today because I was so touched by your post yesterday. I loved how thoughtfully you explained the way Nate taught swimming. I liked it so much that I sent the post to a couple other friends, not all of them teachers. I remember being surprised that Nate was so young, while, from the way you explained him, he sounded so wise. When I read your post today, I felt loss. I can only imagine how hard this is on you and Nate’s family. Thank you for sharing yesterday and for allowing me to learn something from him also. You are in my prayers.

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  13. Ruth – I read your post today, then looked up to see your post about Nate from yesterday tacked to my bulletin board. I can just imagine your sense of loss and how it must all seem quite unreal at the moment. A young life, so full of promise – how very, very sad.

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  14. Thank you for sharing this Ruth. I remember a quote that my high school English teacher shared : “Every man’s death diminishes me.” Not sure who said it, but I understand the sentiment. In the opposite vein, every life we touch, or that touches us, enriches ours. I wish you peace in this difficult time.

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  15. We all get trapped down in the hustle and bustle, and it’s stories like these that help keep us grounded. Nate’s story is too short and heartbreaking, but he clearly made a difference to you (and surely others) in that short period of time. Isn’t that all we can ask?

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  16. Ruth, I’m one who enjoys this site but hasn’t posted, however, reading your post today about Nate and then going back and reading your previous one about the lessons you learned from Nate has so moved me. I wanted to thank you for sharing. What a truly special young man Nate was. Thank you for reminding me how important it is to “sit down and talk.”

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