Monday, March 24, 2008

You mighta heard I run with a dangerous crowd

How is this even possible?

This man, this smart, witty, kind, caring, gentle dead.

But how does someone who's only 34 just...die? Of natural causes? He contributed to the world - he was a teacher and a writer, he inspired his students, family and friends, he gave unselfishly of himself...and now he's dead. Cancer. I can't think of any other thing to say than "It's not fair." A four-year-old's response, to be sure, but the truest one I've had.

I didn't know him well. He was a year ahead of me in high school. We were loose friends in college - we were in the same chemistry class one semester, so since we knew each other from high school we sat together and made snarky comments about the other students, the teacher, everything. And we formed a little study group. And once that semester was over, we would wave when we passed by on campus or out and about in Laramie...but that was about it.

He was one of those people that I would idly wonder about periodically through the years. I always knew he'd be successful in the traditional sense of the word - he knew what he wanted to do with his life and he had a plan for how he was going to get there (unlike me and 90% of college students, I think.) So I didn't really wonder about him like I wonder about some of my other Wyoming compatriots (E-Mul and Dru and Rose and Broc, you know I'm not talking about you here), whom I suspected might end up dead from unnatural causes, or in jail, or divorced with four kids by age 30.

No such worries with Chet. I never did get in touch with him again, never did try to find out what was going on in his life. I only know he died because the Rawlins, Wyoming grapevine is short and news travels fast along it. His life, as short as it was, had meaning and purpose. You should read his blog. And his "This I Believe" statement. And think about what you'd want to do if your life were going to end soon. Because it could, even though it's not fair.

Thanks for reading.


Electric Mayhem said...

Aww, I'm sorry Joy. It's not right that nice, good people go through this.

This is also crazy-scary. Are we at that age where these health things can catch up to us?

thptpth said...

Apparently so. And he'd been fighting it since 2005, so he was even younger.

Zach said...

This (coupled with my hypochondriacal tendencies) is the sort of thing that keeps me awake at night. An increasing number of my peers have been facing their mortality in various ways as we get older, and I don't like it. Not one bit.