Some Thoughts on an Occasion of Sudden Death

Em Carpenter

Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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11 Responses

  1. Terribly sorry for your loss, Em. And your beautiful post strikes a chord with me. I’m 46 and keep thinking of the line from Indiana Jones — whether I’ve reached the age where life stops giving me things and starts taking them away. In the last year, I’ve lost my childhood best friend, my sister and my sister’s boyfriend. Even my cat is on her last legs.

    Time sucks.Report

  2. aaron david says:

    I am sorry to hear this, Em. It truly is very sad.

    I once got a very delayed email from an old girlfriend, my main partner through college. She was letting me know that her husband, the man who in a roundabout way introduced us, had died. She didn’t say how but simply was letting me know. He was at most 50 at the time.

    I am about a decade older than you (and went to a similarly small high school) and it is always shocking to hear of a classmates death. That and my own medical struggles lately have moved mortality to the forefront of my mind. It isn’t a fun thing.Report

  3. I’m sorry for your loss, Em. And as you point out, it’s hard both to learn the lessons we need to learn and to live our lives as day-to-day life demands.

    I, too, have had the experience of losing two former classmates who were probably what I’d call “second order” friends: they were friends, but we didn’t really hang out much. Strangely, in both cases, they died younger. One was probably 23 or so, and the other was probably 25 or 26.Report

  4. North says:

    A fine and unsettling post Em and one that speaks to me as well. I turn 40 next year and I have noticed myself considering that dark oblivion that waits some indeterminate place in all our futures. I don’t really dwell on it exactly but I’m just…aware… of it in a way I wasn’t even 2 years ago. Maybe it’s the noticeable thinning of the ranks of people older than me; the complete disappearance of my “grand” relatives as an entire category; the lines on my beloved mothers kind face. I can just hear the cold whistle of the wind in the cracks more now in the quiet contemplative moments.Report

  5. Jaybird says:

    This sucks. I’m sorry.Report

  6. Em Carpenter says:

    Thank you all.
    I added another picture to my post, one that a mutual friend put on our FB group. It is Josh and Amy in high school-they were very good friends.
    The friend who posted the picture also said “I can picture Josh and Amy together right now, wherever they are, singing “Reunited and it Feels So Good”!” And that really is perfectly fitting of their boisterous, fun personalities.Report

  7. Damon says:

    One of the things I realized post divorce was that life’s too short to 1) give a damn what most people think of you and 2) Grab life by the collar and do what you want to do…NOW.

    No compromises.
    No remorse.Report

  8. Kolohe says:

    Condolences, Em. Had something similiar happen in my sphere this year. A high school friend, tbough one that I hadn’t been in contact with for years, got in a serious traffic accident this summer and passed away about of month later. He left behind a wife and three kids, about 13, 8, and 4 years of age. It was definitely mixed emotions attending the memorial and wake, seeing a bunch of people I hadn’t seen in a decade; a good reunion for the worst reasons.

    (The older kids were quite impressive during the service, better than I could have ever been, even at twice that age)Report

  9. Doctor Jay says:

    There were 63 in my graduating class. I knew them all, of course. Many of them I had been with since kindergarten. Wayne died at age 25 in a logging accident when the helicopter he was on crashed. Mark died of MS at age 29.

    I’m a lot older now, and there have been a few more, and maybe some I haven’t heard about. Sadly, I know this territory, and it sucks.


  10. Dark Matter says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. And yeah, it will go on.

    My class was something like 350-400.

    We lost Stacy in the 4th grade. Childhood cancer, the girl with no hair. At the HS reunions we don’t put a picture up of her since she didn’t make it that far.

    We lost Peter the summer we graduated. I ate lunch with him every day for years. He stopped on the highway to help someone and stepped in front of a truck without looking. Helping people was in character but being stupid wasn’t, that didn’t matter.

    Amazingly, he was the only fatality at the fifth reunion.

    At the 10 year reunion I found out we’d lost a girl I don’t remember to murder and a guy I don’t remember to suicide… and a guy who, even in HS, was dying by inches in a wheelchair.

    I think there’s been at least three more since then (it’s been 30+ years since graduating), but there’s a ton more that dropped off everyone’s radar.

    If it helps, we know a lot more people than we think we know. It’s how we can lose hundreds of celebrities every year.Report

  11. jason says:

    Sorry for your loss, and I get it. I’m nearing fifty, and my wife and I lost our sister-in-law this year. This felt different from previous losses of grandparents, which while sad, are part of generational loss (they’re all gone now). Our parents are all frighteningly close to death (they’ve all had various serious medical issues–nothing immediate now). Getting older means fearing late night phone calls. And this is the best possible option, because the alternative is you dying before everyone else.

    My small high school in Indiana (about 500 students total) has a FB page dedicated to deceased graduates. There’s a shocking number from the years that I attended: one guy I knew personally died several years after graduation in a motorcycle accident, and there are more from cancer, etc. Just last year, a guy in my class died from liver failure caused by alcohol.

    If you think life’s not fair, then you haven’t met death.Report