A sad piece of news hit our community today: TJ Burdette, a former Lancer, died late last night in an accident on Buffalo Road.
I wasn’t great friends with TJ, but I’ve sort of known him my entire life. I knew of him through middle school, and I finally got to formally meet him in Miss Porter’s tenth grade English. When I think of the term “class clown”, I immediately think of TJ – in a good way. He was always awake and he always had something funny to say. Though Miss Porter wasn’t a huge fan of him (he would call her “Porter” and I don’t think she liked that), I had a lot of respect for TJ. In a way, we sort of rallied behind him as a class. When TJ was in the room, you knew it; he was filled with this hard-to-explain energy. He was a bright kid, even if he didn’t want to admit it. He typically wore blue jeans, a baseball cap, a tee shirt, and in the winter, a canvas-colored coat. I always thought he was kind of cute, and I wasn’t the only one. Again, we were never close friends, but I remember that he generally liked everyone, and he was well-liked in return.
More so than face-to-face interactions, I knew TJ through the stories I’d hear in lunchrooms and classrooms all throughout public school. From what I could gather, he was a typical fun-loving country boy. From his closer friends, I always heard that he was an extremely loyal kid that would do anything for his friends and family. He cared for people in the deepest way. He knew his way around an engine and I know I’ve heard more than a handful of stories about his hunting skill. Even as a kid, I saw him show animals at the Frederick Fair. He was definitely an athlete, too; I remember watching him play baseball, and though I can’t find any evidence of it I swear he played football and hockey too.
Over the last few hours, I’ve been checking Facebook as people wake up and react to the bad news. The FNP posted an article early this morning about it, and it’s been shared by at least a dozen of my friends. People have been posting their memories of TJ all morning, with number of notes on his wall growing by the minute. There’s a memorial page already up and running, and for any of you that knew him in any capacity, I’d recommend a visit. I’m willing to bet that most if not all members of my class have some memory or another of TJ. I can’t help but smile as I think about our brief acquaintanceship, for lack of better way to put it.
This loss is a deeply saddening and extremely unfortunate one. It’s the kind of loss that makes me sick to the stomach; I can’t even imagine what his family and close friends are going through. It’s surreal to see a classmate of mine described as an “18 year old man” in the paper as they announce his death. I was just thinking about him the other day while I was writing that post about country music. He fit perfectly into those songs: a party-loving, sweet, down-to-Earth, loyal country boy.
This is going to remain a shock for a while, but in the meantime I’d like to ask everyone to keep the Burdettes and the community in general in your prayers. You left too soon, TJ; you’ll be missed and remembered more than you could even imagine. Rest easy up there.
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