Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On Death

This has been a bad year for mortality in my world.

My grandfather died from complications of lung cancer.

A friend of mine made a mental mistake while climbing and fell 110 feet. Amazingly, he lived.

My grandmother fell down the stairs and broke her neck. Paralyzed from the neck down, she asked to be taken off life support a week later, and died within 30 minutes.

A friend of a friend, one of the worlds best free soloers (climbs without ropes), was swept out to sea by a rogue wave and never seen again. He was merely standing on a ledge below an unroped climb he had just where a fall could have killed him.

Another friend of a friend was murdered by someone she didn't know while working in a national forest.


Until this year, I had never much thought about the difference between dying and "being killed", but obviously there is a huge difference. Each one of those deaths has felt completely different....almost as though the way in which they died somehow supersedes my actual relationship to the person.

If we live in the present, then it doesn't matter how someone died. All that we know and can feel is that they are gone forever. Why should it make a difference whether or not their death could have been prevented?

If you are blessed having time to say goodbye, it makes a big difference. You come away with a better sense of closure and fairness. But sadly, life isn't fair and good people can have their lives taken away just as easily as everyone else.

When someone is gone, all you are left with is your own thoughts and the shared memories you have of that person. Don't ask why too many times. Don't endlessly ponder all the what-ifs.

Usually, the only thing you can truly learn from death is to value your own life, and the lives of the people who are important to you.

No comments: