Upon my return from winter break, I faced the overwhelming grief of losing a dear friend—table Number One of the Dining Hall’s South Bubble.
“Number One” and I spent every morning together since my freshman year, beginning with meals with my proctors, then friends in upper classes, until a few remaining friends and I have become the last trustees of that memory-laden space. While the people would pass from our precious morning place, the rituals remained the same; we would sit in the natural light that streamed in from the south bubble’s nearby windows, occasionally gazing out to watch the shuffle of students. Bruce MacConnell always approached our table with a “Good morning!” and “Let me brighten your day” as he opened the curtains, urging us to face the daylight and a subsequent draft of cold air, while telling his quirky joke of the day.
But when I walked into the Dining Hall after winter break, where I thought the table and I would enjoy our final moments together during this last half of my senior year, I saw instead a massive, hideous, bulky wall. So then I imagined my table, on whose gently-lit surface I used to study and where my dearest friends shared quiet moments of pensive reflection, as merely a pile of thick black ash, soon to be replaced by some obnoxiously shiny and soul-less table and chairs. Even now, when I imagine my table’s charred remains, I can’t help but wonder how he spent his last moments—did he suffer? Or was it over in merely an instant? Did our memories together warm his wooden core? Did he stand strong? Or did he collapse in the all-consuming flames?
Now, I know others would deem me “silly” if I wrote an email to inform my teachers that I am mourning the loss of an inanimate object. My friends, indeed, have been supportive, aware of my long-term “love affair” with “Number One,” and have encouraged me to find another table where I may study.
But though I have experimented with other tables these past few weeks, none can really match the one I have lost and its location’s perfect fusion of isolation and immersion in the white noise and natural light and perfect view of the entire Dining Hall, and no one quite comprehends the extent of my loss. Some days I can’t even muster the strength to go to breakfast. So, I thought I would share with the Deerfield community this story of a treasured friend, and since I could not say my final “farewell” directly to the one I love, thought I could somehow document the times we have shared together by writing this parting piece. So thank you, “Number One,” for the many magical mornings and your always stable, sturdy surface.
And please, Deerfield, if you see someone who appears struck with a bit of “gloom,” please know that some of us are coping with the loss of a remarkable table and beloved friend. Requiscat in Pace, Numerus Unus.