I’m lucky to never have felt the sting of death.
My paternal grandparents died when I was too young to comprehend what it meant or felt like to lose someone special. My parents, siblings, and relatives are alive and well, mostly. My friends too. Pets have passed, and while devastatingly so, mourning that loss hardly compares to the deep-rooted sorrow of losing a loved one.
Three weeks ago, a young man was fatally hit by a vehicle near my hometown while walking along the side of the road. It was dark; the vehicle didn’t stop. His friend found his body in the middle of the street. Jamie was 21.
I knew him.
We were neither friends, nor acquaintances, but I knew him. I watched him play baseball with my brother when he was eight years old. I remember him as an incredibly charming, kind-spirited kid with an overwhelming ability to provoke laughter. Our interactions were few, and I was so very young, but this felt close to home. Jamie was deeply ingrained in a community of people I’d met because of my younger siblings.
Despite my disconnect, I was temporarily flooded with grief at the news of his death. I can’t imagine losing a child or a friend.
Today I’m overwhelmed by human fragility.
Check the news, and you’ll feel it too. Brutality, disease, misfortune, senselessness; it’s all there, robbing humanity of innocent lives. Despite this, I’ve kept personal tragedy at bay. It’s always knocked on someone else’s door, somewhere far from home, where it can’t hurt me. But one day, I’ll lose a loved one. It’s inevitable for all of us.
Mortality is fact. Death is certain.
“At any moment, you have to prepare to be blind-sided. That’s how life goes.”
—Just Keep Swimming, 12.15.13
In the wake of Jamie’s death, and Michael Brown’s death, and Eric Garner’s death, and today’s horrendous killings of 132 children and nine faculty in Peshawar, I am overcome with empathy and sadness for those affected by the loss of dear souls. When the ones you love suffer, you suffer with them.
My eyes: teary. My nails: officially destroyed. My heart: aching for humanity.
I have no earth-shattering point. Just hug your parents. And your siblings. And your partner. And your children. And your relatives. And your friends. And your neighbors. And your pets. Because at any moment, you have to prepare to be blind-sided.
That’s how life goes.