R.I.P. Mitchell Sweatt

by Shaun Terry

I got a text message on my phone last night, and I thought it was a mistake. I thought that surely this was a joke, or that there must be some confusion. There was no way that this could be accurate.

 

So I called my cousin to see if he knew anything, and he picked up the phone, saying, “Sad day.” My heart dissolved in my chest.

 

I was confused, then angry. I yelled things, nonsensical things, half-thoughts and irrational, bitter questions. I was sitting in a car, riding down a long bit of highway, and I slammed my hand against the door. The driver was alarmed. I found myself vacillating between feeling upset for this devastating news, and feeling bad for upsetting my driver.

 

I sobbed. I sobbed like I haven’t sobbed in years. I was whimpering in this dark car on this dark stretch of highway, with my thumb and forefinger across my brow to hide my face, and I sat there like this for a good several minutes.

 

Mitchell Sweatt was a great man. He was better than you or I are. He was smarter than we are, even if he wasn’t well-educated. He was loved by saints and sinners, and he was, himself, undoubtedly a sort of sinner.

 

There was a place on this earth where Batman, Yuengling, a cat named “Cat,” Tennessee hip-hop, Techno music, toilet humor, cuddling, inappropriateness, baseball, hard work, white tennis shoes, ironic tee shirts, clever movies, cheap sushi, understated human understanding, and unconditional love were all awesome things. That place was in Gallatin, Tennessee, but this place that was here some hours ago has simply, inexplicably, unjustly vanished.

 

It’s gone. He’s gone. And they’re never coming back. And he will be missed. He will be missed by everyone. He will be missed by the world, and all those in it, even if they don’t realize the effect he had on their lives.

 

Mitch was a man who was beloved by all who met him. He was slow to assess social situations, but he could say or get away with anything. He could have a beer and tell a lurid joke with a cloistered nun that would make her laugh, and make her fall in love with him, just like he could talk about social responsibility with any street kid. Even Mandy Strader approved of him and all his grime, and I’m convinced that Mandy Strader doesn’t completely approve of PG-13 movies.

 

Only Mitchell Sweatt could influence a gang of conservative early-20’s girls to such a degree that they ran around their Christian University campus, incorporating the phrase “my dick” in any conceivable way as to elicit laughter among all those who knew him.

 

I saw the most uptight people become completely liberated around Mitch because he could do that. No one could do that to people like he could.

 

He was comfortable in any situation, and with any person, and he connected. He could have authentic, meaningful human interactions with any person, and he often did.

 

Mitch loved people, and when you were around Mitch, you knew that you were loved. He was amazing in that way. He was the most skillful person I’ve ever known, and he deserved happiness. He deserved more. He was better than all of us. He so badly wanted to move to California and smoke some weed and fall in love (probably with multiple women) and drink beer with whomever would drink a beer with him. Mitchell Sweatt was a great man, and this world is a little more lonely, a little sadder, a little worse off because a terrible, mindless, unjust tragedy befell us in this world.

 

I love you Mitch. We all do. I wish you were here. I’ll miss you forever.

 

Each January 20, for the rest of my life, I will find little ways to remember you. I hope that you’re somewhere just as nice as California was in your mind, drinking a Yuengling, listening to Techno, hollering at pretty young thangs, playing X-box, and making everyone around you smile. We all owe you something.

 

Goodbye, Mitchell Sweatt.

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