Anybody that attended Plymouth State University in the fall of 2015 knows that it was an exceptionally difficult semester. College is stressful, packed with deadlines and papers, all while trying to balance school as well as a social life.
The Fall 2015 semester at PSU was a different kind of difficult, hearts were broken, and before they could begin to heal they were ripped out again.Within a time frame of about 3 weeks the Plymouth State Community lost two students; Jake Nawn and Mason Cliche. I did not know Jake personally, but I know a bunch of people who did, and I know that the bond they shared was special and is something that cannot be taken away from them.
I did know Mason.
I first met Mason, 2 years ago when I was assigned to the Men’s Soccer Team for athletic training. The first thing I noticed about him was how he was goofy, and always had a smile, he always made sure his teammates were happy and if they weren’t he did whatever he had to do to change that. We had the same Coaching Effectiveness class and worked in the same group; he was just as friendly to people he didn’t know as he was to his friends.
I was never as close to him as most of his friends were, but between working with his team and having some classes together we had gotten to know each other on a level that was more than, ” just some person I had class with”.
During the Fall Semester of 2015 Mason and I were in the same Nutrition Class. We didn’t have assigned seats, but I always took the seat in the back right corner, and Mason always sat right in front of me. It became sort of a routine: Tuesdays he would sit down, turn around, and ask me how my weekend was and ask if there was any homework due, he’d put his headphones in and daydream for most of the class. At the end of class he would turn around, ask if there was anything due on Thursday, and tell me to have a good rest of my day. Thursdays were pretty much the same, it was an ongoing cycle.
There was one day he didn’t show up to class and we were picking partners for our presentations. I told the professor we would be working together and then snuck on my phone to fill him in, he was very appreciative.
November 16, 2015- Presentation Day
We showed up to class wearing almost identical outfits. Grey beanies, red flannels, and boots. Going up the elevator I laughed and told him how we looked like complete dorks. He smiled and said it was great and that we looked like we planned it, I told him that made it worse. We laughed it off and got ready to present. Somehow we didn’t send the completed presentation to the professor so we had to awkwardly stand in the front of the class and find it. Once we got it Mason started off with his well known smile and said, ” Hi, I’m Mason, and this is Bre”. When we finished the presentation Mason was nervous because he didn’t realize that he wouldn’t be able to see his notes on the actual presentation, I assured him he did fine without them. Once we sat back down, he turned around and gave a high five. We did it, the presentation was done!
November 18, 2015- Exam
The last conversation we had was about the exam we had just taken, and then he told me to have a nice break and a Happy Thanksgiving, I wished the same for him.
Mason passed away November 29, 2015.
His passing brought together his friends and family, I made some friends that I wouldn’t know if it weren’t for him. His passing also introduced the word ‘NUANAARPUQ’. It is an Inuit word meaning, “to take extravagant pleasure in being alive”. I could explain how this started but it would just be easier if you checked out the following website and article- http://nuanaarpuq.com/blog-five/the-meaning-of-nuanaarpuq . The author doesn’t say his name, but the linked post is about Mason.
This past weekend I went to the PSU vs USM Men’s Soccer game. Before this game I had received a message from Mason’s mom, she asked if I was going to be attending the game and let me know they would be bringing homemade chili and hot dogs, she told me to come see them-they come to all the home games. I had met her before, but never had the chance to really talk to her on a personal level. She is one of the nicest people I have ever met along with her husband, Mason’s father. Meeting both of them showed me that there was no question why Mason was the person he was. His family gives nothing but love and kindness to everyone, it is inspiring.
I knew I wanted to talk about Mason and how I knew him and what I learned from knowing him, but I didn’t know when I wanted to do that. After seeing his family this past weekend, this was my time.
It is easy to get caught up in the little things, but try not to. Take each day as it comes, smile more, do something you’ve always wanted to do, and most importantly: Take Extravagant Pleasure In Being Alive.
Tattoo on my right forearm.