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Fearing the Reaper

reaper

Once death hits really close to home, it feels like it never quite leaves.  It’s like a booty call that leaves an item behind to have an excuse to collect it later. I’m not talking about the elderly who have lived long, full lives and it’s not entirely unexpected when the pass.  I’m talking about the under 60 set, like our parents, friends, siblings or even kids. When people are still crafting dreams and are in the middle of their lives, it seems like death swoops them away and their living loved ones are left floundering, stunned from the loss.

I lost my mother 12 years ago.  I was 32, she was 57.  She died of cancer, and while her death at that point was expected due to her illness, her illness itself was a shock to my system.  I never really expected her to die that young, to leave a life not yet fully realized and lived.  If I’m really honest, she told me in a dark moment “I’m not ready to die!” and I believe that she wasn’t.  She had plans, dammit, lots of plans!  While life for the living goes on, a piece of me stayed with her when she died. Like the Jewel song says “there’s a hole in my heart in the shape of you”.  Life continues in its twists and turns, but a little piece of me is held there in time with her. I started to also wonder, would death come after me like it had my mom?

A couple of years ago, and I’ve blogged about it, one of my oldest and dearest friends fell asleep one night and didn’t wake up. His heater malfunctioned and pumped carbon monoxide into his room.  He just never woke up.   His death was a shock to the core, completely unexpected, no sense to it, and heartbreaking for everyone who knew him. At the time we hadn’t spoken for a little while, simply because life had kept us busy and we lived in different parts of the country.  He was my age, and it seemed ridiculous to me that I was headed to a memorial for someone so young.  Death isn’t supposed to come for the young, or at least, the sorta young.

Last month, a friend of mine died. She was just a little older than me.  Her story is a different one.  We had been good friends until she made some life decisions I just couldn’t hang with.  She became a different person, and I think she was tired of some of the baggage I had myself, and we parted ways as friends. She didn’t come for me or do anything horrible to me, she just made detrimental choices for her own life, and I couldn’t have those choices around my kids.  See, here’s the funny thing.  I’m not really a grudge holder.  I also have a relatively piss poor memory, which means I let a lot of stuff go that perhaps I shouldn’t.  (Let me be clear, if someone comes for me or my husband or kids, I will become a beast like no other, and I will stop at nothing until that person stops their shit.) For the most part though, I don’t hold on to ill will.  I don’t stay angry, I just remove myself from the person.  When she died, we hadn’t spoken in years, but it doesn’t mean I didn’t miss the friendship, miss our hours of laughter, and giggle at old jokes.  I miss all of those things.  I’m sad things worked out the way they did, but I can’t have toxic people in my life, so I’ve removed them all.   Honestly, I looked at her facebook today, wishing their were more clues as to what happened to her, and I just felt inherently sad.

Sometimes, you don’t just grieve the person, there are more layers to it than that.  Sometimes you miss the old stories, the laughter.  Sometimes you grieve the hopes and dreams.  Sometimes, you simply grieve the fact that the person will never have a chance to get their shit together.

See, that’s the thing.  Once these people started dying, I became very interested in death.  From the actual science of some of it, to the grief process.  I belong to fb groups for funeral directors and other people in the death business.  I don’t think it’s something I could ever do….it freaks me out on one hand, but on the other I have a fascination with it.  Perhaps the study and conversation about death takes some of the mystery and pain out of it.  Sometimes it’s easier to look at something that saddens you in a way that removes all the emotion and just looks at the science of it all.  It’s not a popular conversation.  I’m that person who is honestly curious how people died.  It’s not polite to ask, of course, but I truly want to know what happened to the person who died most recently.  Do I have a couple of guesses?  Sure.  But the cause haunts me a little.

Maybe it’s because deep down, most of us fear the reaper.  We don’t want life to go before we have seen our life play out.  Even on it’s most boring days, our lives still have the hope of adventure and the unexpected.  One thing I have always told people struggling in life is that “you are only just one small decision from living an entirely different life.”  Nothing is permanent, and we can make different choices to have a different life if we choose.  Some choice are easy, some are devastatingly hard, but the choice remains.  Life is like a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book.  We hope we make good choices.  Sometimes the choices don’t line up he way we hope.  Sometimes the choices aren’t good or bad, they just are.  Sometimes a simple, innocent choice leads the whole story to end.

 

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Everyone deserves a written send off.

I’m currently working on possibly moving my blog to a new domain since my stalker has created fake accounts on this one to get notifications of when I post.  It’s ridiculous I have to do that, but such is life. In the meantime, I’m still going to post here, because frankly, this is my blog, and I’m not bowing down to ridiculousness. I’m even questioning moving it, because I simply shouldn’t have to.  All of that being said, I began this blog to be an outlet for me, to express my thoughts.  Yesterday’s event warranted this post, so I’m posting it.

Yesterday was a tough day, for reasons I was not expecting.  I found out an old friend of mine passed away.  She was only 49.  When you become an adult and your parents and friends start dying, it’s a surreal feeling.  Everyone still feels way too young to die, and honestly, 49 is.

She was one of my close friends for a while.  She could make me laugh until I rolled around on the floor.  We shared a similar, dark, savage humor, and could find the laughter in just about any situation.  She was my friend during some hard times, and she certainly helped get me through it.  I also got her through some devastating times.

After a while, she met a new guy, while still married to the old one, and the new guy came with baggage.  Lots and lots of it, actually.  He was bad news from everything I could see, and I did my best to warn her.  I warned her, I begged her, to stay away from him and all the bad he was bringing along.  You know how it goes though, some girls love those bad boys and their big promises.  Before I knew it, her behavior became erratic.  She became paranoid, angry, and was acting like a totally different person.  I knew she was on drugs, and it was doing some major damage to who she was.  The last “conversation” I had with her was filled with paranoia and anger.  None of it made any sense.

The fact is, I have kids, and I just can’t have that sort of stuff around them.  I’m also grown, busy, and tired and I can’t have it around me either.  These were hardcore drugs.  I also saw her doing some other things that seemed questionable.  I had to bail.

I’ve felt badly over the years that I bailed.  The fact is though, when someone is on heavy drugs, they just aren’t the same person.  No matter what I did, I never would have been able to rescue her.  It had to be her that made her choices to get better.  Nevertheless, I felt sad.  I missed our friendship. I missed the laughter, her good heart, and I wondered why it all ended he way it did.

She ended up running away with the bad boy, I think they may have even gotten married.  Last I heard, he had terminal cancer.  I have no idea if he is even still alive, to be honest. It all just seemed so sad.  Yesterday, I saw she had passed away.  The blurb is short, she was born here on this date, she died in her residence on this date.  That made me even sadder. It seemed there was nobody to properly eulogize her life.  She had been reduced to a blurb.  I sat at my computer and cried. Here was a larger than life soul and all that was there was a 2 or 3 sentence blurb about her birth and death, but the middle, where all the important stuff really was, was missing.  I tried to find a proper obituary, but found nothing.

Everyone deserves a written send off.

I am sad for the end of her life.  I am sad for the end of our friendship.  I know I had to end the friendship, but it doesn’t always make it easier to know she’ll never have a chance to get back to the her that she once was.  It feels like the death of a chance.  I hope she found happiness with her bad boy, even if it came with a lot of baggage, chaos, illness and sadness.

I can surmise how she died, likely one of two ways.  I’ll likely never know for sure, but it doesn’t really matter.  It is what it is, and it’s sad. I’m sad. The past two weeks have been a test of all my emotions, and this one brought the sadness.

 

Good Deeds and One Decision

Every now and again, I try to do a kind deed.  Whether it be buying coffee for the person behind me at Dunkin Donuts, or doing a little surprise for a stranger.  Usually I do it when I am having a horrible day, not because because I feel I will get repaid in any sort of way, but because the thought of making someone smile a little brings a little spark to an otherwise crapfest of a day.  Usually I do things where I won’t see the person’s reaction, and I’d like to think it’s a happy one.  I feel like when the world seems like it’s in chaos, a little kindness feels grounding.  Mr Roger’s said his mom told him to “look for the helpers”.  I’d like to be a helper.  My husband is a helper.  He sometimes gives money to panhandlers and when I have asked him why he gives knowing they are often scammers, he gave me an answer that stuck with me.  He said it’s your intent when you give a hand, not their intent.  He gives freely, with no expectations, with no judgement. He grew up volunteering at a homeless shelter.  Giving is in his nature.

Yesterday I dropped the kids off to school, and promptly saw the gas light was on in the car.  I headed over to the gas station, only to see that they couldn’t accept cards, so I went to the one across the street (why the put identical businesses across the street is beyond me, but yesterday I was rather thankful for it.  I went in my bag to get my card out and a face appeared at my window.  I won’t lie, it unnerved me.  I sat there, unsure what to do.  I cracked the window and the man started telling me his story.  Said his car had broke down near the highway and he needed a new serpentine belt.  Said his AAA wasn’t paid up, and that he needed $16 dollars to get a new one (he had taken the max atm withdrawal out. but was short.  It was a scam.  I knew he was bullshitting me.  At first I was afraid he wanted a ride and I said I was sorry, but no way could I put a stranger in my car.  He laughed and said no way would he expect that. He was just trying to raise $16 dollars.  He told me about his job, handed me his passport, which looked dogeared.  The name he gave me matched the passport, and the picture matched his face.   Even though I knew I was likely being lied to, I gave him the money.  He handed me a piece of paper with his email, and he left.  I went to put gas in the car, and as I did so, I watched him run across to the other gas station, grab a backpack, and hope on a white bike.  I watched him ride off.  I wasn’t sure what to think.  Clearly, his story was bogus if he had a bike nearby.  I felt sad.  Not for the fact I had been scammed, because I had surmised it was a scam all along.  I felt sad because he had needed to do it.  Normal people don’t go around scamming people.

Later than day, I pulled out the paper with the email address.  It was a name@gmail type of email, so I looked up the name.  My friends nicknamed me Angela Lansbury a few years ago because I could “find” or “locate” people.  I found it a relaxing hobby, and was able to find some long lost relatives for friends of mine.  In the age of computers, it’s not all that hard to do.  I found his facebook profile.

What I saw was a bit shocking. I saw he had been arrested a few times for trespassing and possession. That fell in line with the scam.  Then I sawwe  grew up in the same town.  He was clearly at some point quite affluent, as there were pictures of him on his boat, at a yacht club, and info about his business.  I also saw that he was facebook friends with some of my friends.  Interestingly, he was friends with my old ex, who wasn’t on my facebook page, but who I saw on his friends list.  It was utterly bizarre.  Was his story real after all?  He appeared to be much more affluent than I was.   I messaged one of our mutual friends who had ended up dating my ex for some time after he and I split.

She responded to me this morning.  Her story was an interesting one.  Apparently this guy had lived with her and my ex for a while.  They were really good friends.  Then over time he started acting off and got into drugs.  He left and struggled with addiction.  He would pull himself out of it, and then fall back in.  He had cleaned up for a while, gotten married, and then his wife passed.  She told me that I had done a kind thing, but that he had likely sunk back into drugs.  It seemed odd because recent facebook posts had him seemingly on the ok track.

I’m left saddened.  The fact is, I may have met him in my younger years.  We clearly hung around the same people.  He was obviously doing quite well for himself, and now is left asking a check to check mom of two for money.  I feel a bit foolish for giving it.  I feel like I may have enabled him, which makes me feel like my good deed fell to a bad one.  Mostly, I feel just sad.

I have always told people “you are always just one small decision from a whole new life”.  I have told my children this, and I believe it.  One small decision can change one’s whole path in life, either for the better, or for the worse.  I tell my children this so that they will be mindful of consequences, but also so that they know that no matter how bad life gets, a small decision can set you on a new path to a happier life.  In other words, you can always change your life if you aren’t happy. I wonder how some choices ended him up in that gas station parking lot.

Part of me wants to email him and just let him know that I hope he’ll be ok in life.  Part of feels like I need to let it go.