Guest Blog by Phil Martinez, Trustee of OSCAR’s PBTC, friend, teacher and football coach.
“I’ve always got the memories while I’m finding out who I’m gonna be. We might be apart but I hope you always know, you’ll be with me. Wherever I go…” they sang, that fabulous little group of ten-and eleven-year-olds, closing the pages on their time at primary school, a time filled with beautiful and fun memories but also marked with great sadness: the death of their friend, Oscar.
But kids, eh? Kids brush these things off, don’t they? They play and laugh and smile and busy themselves with worrying about whether they will get the next big X-Box game for their birthday, or how many sweets they can eat in one go at Hallowe’en, or if their trainers are as cool as the trainers their friends have.
Not so. Oscar is always with them and they showed this time and time again, particularly as their time at primary school drew to an end.
“We have to include Oscar in the Leaver’s Assembly, Mr.M. He is part of our class,” said one girl to me many months ago. So they shared memories, chatted, wrote stuff down. Those of you who knew Oscar, or who have come to know of him from the words on these pages will find little surprise in what they said, but for me it was the depth of feeling that he brought out in them that touched my heart.
“He would always lift your day,” said one.
“He never doubted himself or anyone else,” said another.
“He could make anyone smile.”
“He was an inspiration to me: a boy I always wanted to be like.”
What a legacy Oscar has left these children. Not the tears and the sadness, although that is certainly there, but the friendship and the happiness of days lived in smiles and with enthusiasm.
There were plenty of fun memories too. The time in the infants when he whispered to some of his mates a rude word (don’t worry, it wasn’t that rude) and then they ran round shouting it loudly to each other at playtime. And the time when their Y2 teacher left the school and they had a small surprise party, that Oscar – unable to find a suitable hiding place quickly enough – stuffed himself in a cupboard but fell out ahead of time as she walked in, adding a wry ‘Surprise!” to his impromptu arrival.
“He’s always with us,” one of the children said at the end of the tribute in Leavers’ Assembly. And he has been. His picture is in their Leavers’ Book and they wrote messages in one that was printed for him; his name appeared on the shirts that they signed for each other; each one of them on their last day at school proudly wore a wristband for the charity that bears his name.
And they talked about him, and thought about him, and shed a tear for him. Most importantly of all they keep his memory alive and hold him in their little hearts.
On the last day of their residential, a double rainbow appeared over their accommodation, a sign that Oscar was there with them. They were elated. They stood proudly in front of it for pictures. Then they went in to their rooms and I could hear their upset. They miss him in so many ways.
“A true friend who will never be forgotten,” reads one comment of many similar ones in Oscar’s Leavers’ Book.
“I miss Oscar every day,” says another, indicative of the sentiments written by so many of them.
“I remember chasing you all the time across the field. I still really miss u.”
“Well, where do I start, I used to always look up to you, and you’re still my best friend.”
Still my best friend…
“I hope you get remembered forever and forever.”
In the hearts and minds of these beautiful children, and of so many of us, we all know he will be.