Hell of a Guy

Life and Death


A very good friend of mine defines the word “Life” as a sexually transmitted fatal disease.  While it is somewhat a macabre definition, it is nonetheless blatantly true.  Two recent incidents have hammered this home to me and moved me to moments of melancholy and emotion. 

Two weeks ago my immediate supervisor was admitted to the hospital with an esophageal rupture.  I am not medically trained, but a little Google search allowed me to see exactly how serious and life-threatening this can be.  He was closer to death than he may ever realize.  Someone – God perhaps – was watching over him.  He is lucky to be alive, and one day I will share this with him.

My boss and I have a special relationship.  At one time he reported to me.  Over the years we have become very close, and though there is about a fifteen-year age difference between us, I can easily, openly and honestly say, I love him like a brother.  We are that close.  And, yes, we have shared the sentiment.  I am very thankful he will be back to work in a couple of months.  After nearly ten days in the hospital, and much of it in an intensive care unit, he is home.  Hopefully, he will slow down a bit and enjoy the remainder of the life the God of All Things (see “Me, God and the Quantum World” – 3-29-06) grants him.  I wish him a speedy recovery.

Tuesday evening tragedy befell a young man named Garrett.  In the speed of light his life was ended at the tender age of twenty years. 

Garrett is the nephew of my former wife.  I last saw him in 1998 in Ft. Lauderdale as he lay near the pool behind his home.  He didn’t have a lot to say, but that is the way of young teenagers and I didn’t attempt to extract a conversation from him.  A simple “Hi” was enough torture to put him through.

My best recollection of Garrett is a moment when he lived in Pennsylvania, west of Philadelphia near Downingtown.  The house his parents owned had a descending driveway, the end of which came to an abrupt drop-off of two or three feet.  Seems to me in my nostalgic view of this event that Garrett, along with a friend or two, decided a quick jaunt down the driveway on a Big Wheel would launch him into a slick “ski jump” ride into his backyard.  It did.  While I did not get to view this event, the story as told by his mom and dad had me stitches.  Though Garrett may not have thought it so funny, especially with all the scabs and bruises he got as a prize for the longest jump.  It seemed Garrett was forever in the stunt mode.

One time he took Karate lessons.  Garrett was a classy kid.  I recall his dad telling me the Karate instructor had told he and Garrett’s mother that Garrett didn’t participate in the lesson because he was too busy admiring himself in the mirror.  He loved the Karate outfit and thought he was way cool in it.  He was a special kid.

This disease called Life is but a tenuous thread.  It can snap for any of us at any moment.  It is very fragile.  It is particularly sad when one so young, so promising is taken away.  Unfortunately it happens way too often, and in this case, way too close to home.

Monday I will attend Garrett’s funeral in Baltimore.  I have not been a part of Garrett’s family for thirteen years, but I am overcome with grief and more than emotional when I think of what his passing means to his parents, his sisters, his friends and extended family.  I am prepared for a day filled with spilling emotion.  As I age I am becoming more accustomed to death and funerals.  I am not prepared for this one.

I am not a religious person, as I have mentioned a few times in these postings, but I have made my peace with the God of All Things.  While a “life after death” is not something I am hanging my hat on, I am quite satisfied in my belief that the human essence exists far beyond this container in which we reside while peregrinating the face of this planet. 

My thoughts are with his family, and that is all I have to say about that. 

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