Monday, January 25, 2010
The Emotional Coroner
There's something about spending a week surrounding by death.
All ends of that spectrum covered in a short span, and every emotion fathomable reeling inside you from Sunday to Sunday, a short span if you think about it in the calendar life, but on the brink of all things mortal and immortal at the same time.
Death too soon, death by old age, death by a vicious disease. Feelings wrought from inside you garnered from past or present experiences. Obligatory appearances, hugs and condolences, and a sea of over worked tear ducts.
They say it comes in threes. I'm not sure who "they" are exactly, or what morbid count decided that this trifecta was the proper way that things were so, but so began my week.
Death came knocking last week, and loudly. Not like opportunity, which has ceased to find my door. Death on the other hand, has a fond familiarity with whatever threshold I seem to inhabit.
The first of course, though sad and tragic, you would think the least affective of me. A co-workers child. No parent should ever lose a child, this I understand, but this was to a disease I unfortunately knew well. One that not only took lives by death, but also ruined them by circumstance.
My son and I of course victims, I suffered great pain, not only in the realization of the memories conjured by what had happened, but more so the facts. The cold hard facts of what could have been. And the harsh reality that I was in for the fight of my life.
An emotional turmoil I wish on no parent, yet I fight daily.
Then of course, that skeletal hand of the Reaper once again came tapping. This time familial. My Uncle's mother. A great Aunt of sorts, if only by marriage, but one I'd known my whole life. An elderly woman yes, 87 years on age.
Sure she had lived a full life, but death never comes easily.
And so up from the sunny warmth of Florida came my family. And this wake, well it was clearly different from the first. And the differences obvious since I had to attend both in one night.
I felt like an ambulance chaser, a funeral home hopper.
I went from the wails and cries of a life taken too soon tragically at 29, to the serene family reunion of a woman who lived her life nearly a century. Drastic by comparison.
The true blow came as I left the second wake. As I pulled away that Tuesday evening, and drove steadily towards my mother's house to pick up Dylan, my phone chimed. Nothing out of the blue, I get 987 email alerts a day it seems. The wonders of modern technology.
And yet, as I approached a red light, I felt the need to glance at it quickly. And my heart started pounding, my head to spin. No this couldn't be true, not by email at least. I had to have read it wrong. But there it was in black and white. Time stamped and dated.
One of my best friends mother's had died of cancer that morning.
A woman who had been like a second mother to me. A friend who I had spent countless weekends with growing up, through high school and college. Who's family was like my family. A friend who flew home from across an ocean when my father passed away, and who's mother was there when she didn't make it in time.
And I was devastated. Cancer.
Glad she was no longer sick or suffering, but devastated nonetheless that this person who was like another mother to me was gone. Conjuring up memories of how I felt at the loss of my father. I knew how they felt, how hard it was going to be. And it sucks.
It’s funny how you realize how much things change when people die. That it's not just loss of life, its change inevitably. That a father now has to adjust to not having a son, a son adjust to not having a mother. An entire family adjust to not having their entire cornerstone.
But death comes in many forms. Not just loss of life. There is death in friendships, relationships, careers, hell even most of my cars just seem to die. All of which this past year I have come to know relatively well. I told you death knew my address well.
It’s funny when you think about it, how things end. Some extreme and some ever so slightly. Some in a hail of fire and brimstone, bringing devastation and fervor and trying to destroy all else around it as it goes. Others more subtle, they simply just fade away, drift out of your life little by little until they are nothing more than a memory.
When you find yourself surrounded by it, in every sense of the word, in every aspect of your life, when you come to just expect it; it changes who you are. Little by little, molecule by molecule.
Your entire combustible make-up is distorted and skewed. You view things not through rose colored glasses, but through the smoky haze of a terror victim, waiting on the brink of the next attack. Ever the cynic and never the optimist.
That glass is never half full, it's half gone.
You're an emotional coroner. Waiting for the next bag to fill.