When my grandfather passed away in 2002, I cried. I didnt cry because death was a bad thing. I cried for fear that he thought my recent move out of Florida was to get away from him. It sounds rather trite, not to cry because I was upset about his passing. My prized possession to this day are two unvarnished bookcases that he built when I was younger for my sister and I. It feels wrong to varnish them. In truth, I thought he was going to die ten years earlier when he fell incredibly ill. That was the beginning of his health decline. I wasn't surprised when he passed away, but i worried that he thought I was trying to get away from him, which just wasn't the case.
When my great aunt passed away, I was proud of her and relieved. Her health had seriously declined over the past couple of years and she was living in a nursing home and the last time I saw her, she didn't seem to recognize me, but told my grandmother two days later that I had come to visit. This happened right around the time of Terri Schiavo and it resonated about the selection of a death with dignity. My great aunt decided she had had enough and said she wasn't going to eat anymore and fourteen days later she passed away, essentially starving herself. I took a little bit of pride that she lasted longer than Terry Schiavo, which means that my great aunt was stronger.
But in both cases, I feel I was prepared for their deaths. They were, after all, old. And old people die. That's the mentality. It sounds kind of harsh to write it, but its kind of true. I have had to deal with younger death before... and then there was Shaun, who didn't die, but will never be the same.
Since December, death has now affected me twice from a much younger perspective and has caused me to consider how truly random our mortality can be. First, a friend of mine was murdered shortly before Christmas. A very violent episode that broke my heart and left me an emotional mess for a couple of weeks. It wasn't that we were exceptionally close, but it was someone that I saw regularly. It struck me as horribly odd that I would no longer see him out and about. It also struck me the possibility that it could have been me. Even though I normally wouldn't have gone to that part of town nor been up that late, so many of my friends have been mugged that it could have easily been me in that situation. But the violent nature of it made me feel that a life was robbed. More than a non-violent death
And now, a friend from high school, died this past weekend... drowned in Africa. I think how random it was. Why him, why there, why now? It seemed that he had gotten his life together and that's when his life ended. I'm saddened by his death and it does make me think that I could have been dead by any number of means. He was younger than I was... and he really is the first person younger than me that I've known that has died.I feel more at peace over this death than the last one. Maybe its because it seemed more natural than being murdered. Maybe its because I haven't really seen him since we were in high school together and that type of distance can lower the emotional impact.
But as tragedy hits, these are the thoughts I've had.