Friday, January 25, 2008

Saying Goodbye

It's always amazing to me that people die. Even old people. I'm as curious now as I ever was about this process. Heath Leger's untimely, tragic death reminds me of how unbelievable it is that a person can be alive one minute: breathing, thinking, feeling sad, feeling elated, brooding, having a tantrum, and planning the next day, year or distant future and then, poof, it all stops. "They" come. The body is disposed. The wreckage of a life is cleaned away. We watch, cry a bit, feel sad, and plan for tomorrow. It always seems that it's like watching a traffic accident: thank God not me. But it's coming. Absolutely. No way out. It's coming for each of us. The very body that we dance in today, will be buried or burned or tossed on a dunghill somewhere, sometime in the not-too-distant future.

So we wave goodbye, shed a tear, and go back to living because it's not our turn yet. We've got things to do, tomorrow to worry about. What help would it be to suffer too much for that which will knock on our door soon?

I never wrote about witnessing my friend Kitty die. At Hospice, I listened to the deep rattling of her lungs, the incoherent mumblings about the moon and the universe, and saw that last shudder. There were eight of us surrounding her--all holding our breath, hanging by the lip of the earth, seeing and disbelieving when she jumped into the abyss. We leaned closer--looking at her chest, searching for the rise, seeing what we could not believe we were seeing. And when it happened, there was a kind of certainty. We saw her leave, but it was so unbelievable; and what a holy moment it was.

I did not know Heath Leger personally, but like the rest of you, I feel sad for him, for his daughter Matilda, and the friends and family he leaves so soon. I hope his flight to the afterworld is better than he ever imagined.

Now, back to planning my evening. Looks like one cowboy really can quit us. I'm sure he'd tip his hat if he could:

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