Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes,
How do you measure, measure a year?
I transferred to Loyola Academy my sophomore year, and upon transferring was cast in the school’s production of the musical Rent. As I was inviting everyone in my English class to come see the show, Patrick enthusiastically assured me he was coming to see it. I figured this was another one of Patrick’s endearing and good-willed, yet unfulfilled, promises… just like he promised to take me and our English teacher, Ms. Farrell, on a date… together. These promises occurred on a weekly basis. We would usually start the class off by Patrick saying something along the lines of, “Ms. Farrell, when do I get to take you on a date?” (Mind you, she never reciprocated the feelings, but he was persistent.) Then he would turn to me and say, “We can all go to the movies together.” To say that Patrick knows how to charm a teacher, or anyone for that matter, is an understatement. But I digress.
The day after my final performance, I came to class and said something sassy to Patrick about him not attending. He refuted, claiming that he saw the performance. So, I quizzed him about the show thinking there’s no way the Patrick Stein was going to spend his Friday or Saturday night sitting in the theatre. He stopped me dead in my tracks when he said, “Yeah, that song five hundred twenty five thousand.” He had proved me wrong. He knew a lyric to one of the songs. To this day, I have no idea how he knew that song, because I know for a fact he didn’t see the show. But the idea of him knowing one song from a musical warmed my heart, so I let it go. It became just another joke to us, like our many “scheduled” dates with our teacher. Little did I know this song would come to mean so much more.
Fast forward to October of our senior year. I went to visit him after his surgery, and when I walked in the room I didn’t know what to say. I was so used to the jokes and the witty banter that I was afraid I would get too emotional, and Patrick, a high school boy, I remind you, would never want me to come visit again. So, I stuck to our usual. I joked around and teased him and reminisced about our crazy religion teacher. And then came a moment of silence, and I don’t quite remember how it happened, but all of a sudden I was playing “Seasons of Love” or as Patrick calls it “five hundred twenty five thousand” on my iPod and singing along. If I remember correctly, he asked me to sing it, but he may read this and say I’m totally wrong and that I forced him to listen to me J. Nonetheless, in that moment his eyes lit up and I was barely able to sing as I fought back tears. I knew this song meant something more. This song filled the silence when I had so much to say but didn’t know how to say it. For the first time I experienced what people mean when they say music has the ability to connect people; it’s a universal language that expresses what cannot be put into words. It brought a certain energy and feeling of light into that room that felt so heavy and inescapable.
I’m pretty sure Patrick might hate this song now because Mrs. Stein will occasionally request that I sing it, but this song will always remind me of Patrick. I’m sure he would much rather be associated with a Lil Wayne song, but I can’t help thinking of Patrick with love and true friendship and moments fulfilled. He lights up a room as he attempts to charm whichever female will listen, or as he makes fun of someone with that always-forgivable smirk. And through it all, this hasn’t changed. His humor, his love, his endearing friendly demeanor remains in tact. Through all these passing seasons, he has measured his time with love and friendship when it could have been easier to measure them by strife and hardship.
I know it sounds cheesy and corny, and I wish I had a more humorous story to share that embodies Patrick’s ability to make anyone laugh, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Patrick it’s that each day counts and that every single day should be measured with lots and lots of love. Anyone who has ever stepped foot in the Stein’s house knows it is filled with overflowing amounts of love, and the laughs can be heard from the other end of the neighborhood. And I assure you, these are due to Patrick’s jokes. He will always make sure everyone in the room is having a good laugh, maybe at their own expense, but even so, everyone will be laughing. So, perhaps we can make our own version of the song (as Patrick always likes to do) to help us all remember how very dear every five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes are and say, “Measure your life in love… and lots and lots of laughs.”
– Keeley Miller, Patrick’s friend