Another random water death by someone fit and healthy.
I learned today that our friend David died last week, as the newspaper said, "during the swimming portion of the triathlon." He was 20 years older than matt, and matt had described him as "someone who probably used to be in good shape, but has become stiff and tense." David was both things - in good shape, and stiff and tense. He moved with a tremor you'd only notice if you were the kind to notice things. He was angry and self-righteous, anxious, controlling, and brilliant in his chosen field.
We were coffee shop friends. Matt had been working with David on some design renovations for his house in the week before his own random water death. When Matt died, this stiff, formal, somewhat angry man offered his time to me, saying, "I'm pretty good with these sorts of things."
I was just thinking of him the other day - David, that is. Matt I think about all the time. Was just randomly wondering what he was up to, how his summer was going. Driving down to the coffee shop today, I was thinking of how, when someone dies, when some random accident happens, we say "it hit close to home." I was thinking how people probably said that when their friend Matt died, that such a tragedy happened so close to home, and how for me, it wasn't "close to home," it WAS home.
I walked in to the coffee shop and sat down with a friend. We did our normal catch up on things. And then he very gently and slowly told me: there is some news. Some news in the way of sudden death. And then he said his name: David. He told me the details are not released. He told me he wanted to tell me before I read it somewhere, or overheard it in some less-than-gentle way. While reading the tribute on his employer's webpage, I came to the part where David was taken from the water during the triathlon. My friend said quietly - "it was water. That was the other thing I didn't want you to find out about alone."
What is odd to me about this is my lack of grief, I guess I'd call it. Now, David and I were not in any way close. I hadn't seen him for months. It is bizarre that he is gone, just - poof! but I feel inured to that somehow. He and his ex-wife were hostile with each other, so there is no one like me, there is no one whose life was twined with his, no one whose home took this direct hit. Maybe that is why. Does that seem rude? Dismissive? It's like seeing what happened to me, what happened to matt, from this outsider's view, this casual connection point of view, where it is not my life that has been hit. The loose-knit community absorbs it, people are shocked, but no one's life, no one's daily life, is personally changed.
And maybe because it HAS happened to me, the shock is different. I already know that weird random shit happens weirdly and randomly. I already know that the world blows up, and what happens after it does. For the people "close to home," things have a momentary rift, and then ease back to normal, perhaps with a fleeting tint of "life is short." People who take a direct hit know there is no normal anymore.
I'm not crying. I'm not sad about David. Do I need a five tombstone movie to be sure I'm still in here? Am I callous and shut down? I don't know. My friend and I sat there talking about it, talking about the details and funerals and all these things. A man came in wearing glasses a bit like David's. I said, "I thought that was him, even though we sit here talking about his funeral, I looked up and was ready to say hi to him." My friend told me he had been doing that all day. David was many circles out from the center of my home. His death will make no difference in most of my daily life. But he is one more person I will not look up to see coming through the door, no matter what the corner of my eye thinks it sees.
It's making me feel somewhat cocky. Somewhat - I don't know - fearless isn't quite the right word. Within the freak out panic of my mother around the weather coming through this weekend I feel myself bristle and think - dude, you have no idea. You die whenever you die, and there is not a thing in this world that will change it or stop it or anything else, so stop freaking out. Having only heard about David barely two hours ago, I feel a cavalier smart-ass-ness in me - get over yourself. Stop being jerks. Stop freaking out. Random shit will pluck you from this place, from this life, or it won't. Nothing you can do. You aren't safe, and you aren't in danger either.
It's really quite a bit smart-ass. Maybe I do need a movie.