Friday, December 5, 2008

Death: The Great Equalizer

One of my brother's friend's parents died very unexpectedly last week. 2008 strikes again. RIP, of course, but I just have to hope that 2009 will be less death-filled. Jesus. Everybody stay safe. The year's almost over. You just have to survive December!

There's this paragraph in
Looking for Alaska that says: "I knew that I would know more dead people. The bodies pile up. Could there be a space in my memory for each of them, or would I forget a little of Alaska every day for the rest of my life?" I've thought about that paragraph at every funeral this year, and I don't know the answer, but it helps me feel a little more normal to realize that death is as constant as life, possibly more constant, and there is literally no life without it. As long as you know people, you will know people who die. Some deaths will be harder than others, and you can never really know how any individual one will affect you, but it is still a part of life. Death is impartial and unstoppable and just there. It is neither unfair nor fair. You can spend your entire life running from it, but it's not going to chase you. Someday you'll run so far you've gone straight around the world and Death is waiting. It'll always catch you one way or another. You can't win, but it's not really a contest, either.

In the meantime, it is maybe best to live with Death like an indifferent neighbor. You don't like or dislike them, and every once in a while they may get on your nerves by playing their music too loud, but they're not going anywhere and mostly you just try not to bump elbows too often. When you do have to talk (at neighborhood watch meetings, for instance, or when your mail is accidentally switched) it's awkward, but not unsurvivable, and the conversation does eventually end. You won't ever invite them to your parties, but they wouldn't want to come, anyway.

It's also probably a good idea to stay off their lawn.

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