Today I learned that an old family friend, a kind of acquaintance-friend who my family had a falling out with, died while hiking a high-desert trail in Arizona. She had been on that very trail before. She was an experienced adventurer who loved the outdoors and was familiar with nature’s fickleness. But it was 97 degrees – in December. She was 68. According to the papers, she’d become lost, a fact that I can’t quite pair up with the stalwart, determined, capable woman I knew in my youth. I can’t stop myself from imagining her last day, her last moment. I can’t help myself because I once cared about her very much.
Death has become like any familiar stranger in my life. You know the type: a person you see everywhere but who you aren’t interested in pursuing in any social construct. Death sits in the cafe, doing the crossword, wearing that jacket I like but am too shy to inquire about. Death is at the concert I am at on Saturday, one arm propped on an amp like it’s no big thing. (The way Death taps a beat annoys me to no end.) Death, like me, shops at cheap stores and feels guilty for it but still can’t hand over $200 for a decent pair of USA-made jeans. So, like me, Death tries not to think about the children who probably manufactured these products. Death is a normal weirdo like the rest of us. I bump into Death from time to time, in different ways, in different scenarios. I am not interested in getting to know Death better. But Death is still familiar.
I shouldn’t be shocked when Death does the job that Death came to do. Not to be dismissive of the weight of Death but had if I a friend who worked for the IRS I’d hate them for a while, in April, in a similar way to how I hated Death upon reading this article. The abrupt nature; the shitty delivery. Couldn’t you have let me say something to them first? Why did I have to read it on the internet? Did you at least make sure they hallucinated something beautiful, something comforting, something that made them feel like God as their last breath clawed its way into the burning desert sky?
I just wish that sometimes Death would be a little more tactful.