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Rest in peace, Barry Mitchell

Over a period of years, we are schooled in a process commonly referred to as “the life cycle. Simply stated: You’re born, you live a span of years, and you die.   

Typically, the birthing process is a happy occasion as family members smile, friends offer congratulations, and a process of embracing life begins.  

The second phase is full of highs and lows, joys and sorrows, trials and tribulations, all embraced as the maturing and learning process of living.  

In our society, it is the third process that is the most difficult to embrace. Tears of sorrow, emptiness of heart and personal soul searching provide a range of extreme mixed feelings. The sorrow we feel is often for self and other loved ones left behind as it engages feelings of loneliness and an oftenchallenging examination of now near we ourselves are to that final phase. 

This past summer, I lost a good friend, Barry Mitchell. It has taken me several months of attempting to reconcile the full breadth of this loss to reach a point of attempting to deal with it within the contents of this writing.  

I have a full range of memories of growing up in Hartselle during my formative years that include Barry. Certainly that is a condition of many people who grew up during that time. Many still live there, and others, like myself, moved on to other things and places.  

All of us who counted Barry as our friend are now left to examine the meaning of our being and the hole left in our hearts by his passing. 

Teenage years have always been challenging and often form the basis of who we are and who we become. So is the case with Barry. A number of people can attest to his fabulous personality, wonderful attitude and contagious sense of humor. He was the epitome of a friend.  

Even though it had been a number of years since I had seen him, I continue to mourn his passing and have great difficulty in filling this hole I feel in the deepest part of my soul.  

Barry was the type whose engagement with others was such that you’d never know he had a single bad day in his life. Even in the past several months before his passing, conversations with him left me uplifted and with a smile on my face. Even the times I talked with him that I knew for certain he wasn’t having a good day, he always made sure he gave more than he took from out talks 

It is my hope as he hung up the phone that he could smile himself, if for no other reason than he had made me laugh. 

So Barry, for all those great times – from Deer Springs to Tuscaloosa, from the backroom pool table at United Stage Equipment to the Key Club conventions throughout Alabama – and for great times that, if detailed, could fill a modern novel, thank you for a life well lived.   

I, among many others in Hartselle, love you and miss you. You touched a number of people with your wit, your talent and your courage as you were forced to embrace that final stage of the “life cycle.  

It has been said that a person experiences two deaths: the first when we cease to physically exist and the second when your name is uttered among the living for the last time. In your case, you’ll live on for a long time. 

Gary Lawrence 

Mount Airy, North Carolina 

Formerly of Hartselle