Mourners remember time spent with Sun

Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Carol Sun, RBHS 2011 alumnus, filled his life with spontaneity. So it is fitting that he did not give anyone much notice that he would be leaving.

After just two weeks in the hospital Sun passed away Aug. 3 because of complications of Moyamoya disease.
For senior Cory Cullen, Sun’s death was the second death of a close friend, but this time, he said, it was harsher because it was unexpected.
“Sun went to St. Louis to play Magik, a card game. The worst thing that should’ve happened is that he’d come back with a paper cut,” Cullen said. “Next thing I hear he’s in the hospital.”
While in St. Louis, Sun’s family and doctors came to the understanding that he was the unfortunate possessor of this rare genetic disorder in which the blood vessels in the brain become blocked. RBHS 2011 alumna Lauren Baker visited Sun in the hospital twice before he died.
“On the way up [to St. Louis] we would sing songs to the radio like normal kids, and then we’d get into the hospital… which already is a strange place to be in by nature,” Baker said. “And we get into his room in the ICU, not like it’s in the children’s wing where there is art all over the walls. Just like a blank room and then tons of machines in the corner… all buzzing and beeping, with his head partially shaved and all these wires coming out of him, … and you could see his heart rate on the monitor So you knew he was alive, but at the same time you knew he was brain dead. It was weird to see that and to know that, but not want to know that.”
Those close to Sun dealt with grief together, giving comfort and help to those who needed it.
They participated in many remembrance activities like a semi-spontaneous balloon launch in his honor. Each person wrote a note on a thick white paper and attached it to a balloon. The thick Missouri air raised the colored balloons slowly into the night sky.
Bethany Ahlersmeyer, RBHS 2010 alumna, said the grief of losing such a genuine friend would be impossible to deal with alone.
Chemistry teacher Gregory Kirchhofer described how those who knew Sun have come together in an even tighter knit group, supporting each other on their path of mourning the loss of a close friend.
“He would be willing to do whatever. … My mom came to visit once, when she was like 72, and I was in class so I had Carol go to the office to pick her up and bring her down,” Kirchhofer said. “And I told Carol that she wanted to go out dancing that night, and that I had a meeting and wouldn’t be able to take her. Would he be willing to do that? And he just said, ‘O.K., I like jazz.’”
His charisma and leadership made all those in the room take a seat and listen to what he had to say. Ahlersmeyer said if she met anyone from any country, of any age who said they knew Sun, she would not be surprised.
He drew people in with his wide smile and his argumentative banter.
“He had such a great influence on so many people,” Ahlersmeyer said. “I think no matter whom he met, or whether the person knew him for a year or five minutes, he impacted everybody. You went away from an experience with him better off.”
Even after Sun’s death he continued to impact peoples’ lives. Sun donated his organs to other patients fighting their own diseases.
And although there is a hole where Sun used to be, through the influence he’s had on people Sun will continue to live on in the halls of RBHS. For Baker, this year will be different without Sun around; it will be lonelier.
“We decided randomly that we would plan our Halloween costumes… and this was July,” Baker said. “We came up with tons of ideas. I told him I wanted to be a Weeble, like those kids’ toys that never fall over. We had crazy plans. I don’t really know what I’ll be this year anymore.”
By Maria Kalaitzandonakes