Friday, July 23, 2010

When is a good time to die?

Yesterday I heard of several tragic deaths in the families of "friends of friends."

One friend told me how young man and woman of our age had moved from their hometown to pursue a new life together. Three weeks later, his mother was killed in a flood in Mexico. Knowing the mother had left her family, including four children, 7 years previously, my friend and I wondered what sorts of closure were already sealed and what sorts of regrets would never find closure.

The conversation moved to my friend's cousin, who had spent most of her life in the wake of her mothers various addictions and alcoholism. After a painful and humiliatingly public falling out on Christmas Eve, the grown daughter finally washed her hands of the destruction and began to live her life. She was away on vacation when her mother killed herself three months later. At least, we thought, she had made peace with the separation already. But maybe not.

Another friend of a friend was killed two days ago when his rock-climbing party was struck by lightning in the Tetons. He had recently decided to propose to his now heartbroken girlfriend. His body could not be recovered until the following day, and she was hundreds of miles away. Zero closure.

Some days it's a friend of a friend. A few times it has been a friend. God decides.

If I die on the way to Memphis today, now is a good time to die.