I didn’t know him.
But after a week without him, I feel like I know some of what Fisher Barton was best loved for and some of what he will always be remembered for.
Death is untimely and as prepared for it as the oldest of humans can be, their loved ones never seem to be. What is perhaps even more untimely is when life is stolen in it’s youth.
Students and staff at Whitley County High School spent the week trying to arrange a multitude of emotions. Community’s in at least two states mourned their friend and loved one's tragic loss. Friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers and a church family grieved, asking the universe why.
One elementary school boy was at a loss for words and simply called it “weird.”
Monday afternoon, Brian Prewitt wrote this to me in an email: Today without Fisher was not the same at all. He was always at school and usually was one of the first kids in the Agriculture Department and one of the last ones to say bye to us in the afternoon. Fisher was the type of kid that lit up the room or shop in many cases, he was an extremely caring individual and always willing to lend a helping hand in no matter what is going on. Fisher was so special because he has such a big heart and loved people, he would do anything for anybody whether he knew them or not. He was an extremely hard worker at anything and that allowed him to be extremely skilled at anything he was involved in. Fisher believed in putting his "Heart and Soul" into anything he did.
“Fisher was the epitome of a Whitley County High Student,” said WCHS Principal Bob Lawson. “He always encouraged and supported those around him. He gave his best effort. He loved his classmates, his teachers, the staff and his school as a whole.”
“He was one of my best friends and my best secret keeper,” Gracie Brashear told me.
What I always notice around the death of a well loved human is a lot of connection, community and a lot of showing up in an uncomfortable space.
In her book, “Braving the Wilderness," research professor and author Brene Brown asks participants to identify three to five specific behaviors that their friends, family and colleagues do that raise their level of trust with them. Her research found that funerals always emerged in the top three responses. Funerals matter — showing up to them matters.
On Wednesday, I watched nearly 20 law enforcement officers show up to honor a young man. I watched classmates come in groups to pay respect. Multiple community’s across state lines came together to remember the kindness, the joyful spirit, the humor the enthusiasm and the love of life that Fisher showed while he was here.
Now gone, teammates, friends, family members and even strangers will keep his memory alive as they share stories, put their heart and soul in everything, be a best friend and secret keeper and live like fisher.