Again, while a sad report, this news didn't particularly move me... at first. However, within some 30 minutes, I walked into sophomore biology, began to put my books on a table, and... *BAM* felt literally awash in sorrow. This was an entirely new experience for me - the sorrow was more physical than emotional, and wracked my body. I'd gotten to know Joe and, while not a close friend, enjoyed his company. The guy had even drawn a corny cartoon in my pink address book at the close of summer camp.
The school attendance secretary was compassionate, and allowed us a free pass for the asking. An odd group of students from various grades and social circles gathered at a table in the commons to just... talk. And talk and talk and talk. We may later have gone to someone's house to talk some more. The shared sorrow, I realize now, was important in grieving, especially for a peer - so young!
In the next couple of years, my great uncle would die from a fall, and my great aunt soon after, from old age. Having had my grandparents pass on when I was quite young, these two were surrogate grandparents. I was confused and saddened. Perhaps not so much as I had been for the loss of Joe, given their old age, but still regretful that I wouldn't have them anymore. Later, with the birth of my first child, I was sadder, still, for the inability to have them enjoy each other's company. Later I would fantasize about them meeting and playing together in heaven.
The next eventful death was that of my mother-in-law's (from my first marriage). She died painfully from a cancer and, as usual, much too young. While I grieved, I was also comforted in my role as a supporter - to be the strong one for my [ex-]husband and our small family.
The next one was the SERIOUS one. Clearly, we're not supposed to have our children precede us in death. However, my nearly-3-year-old son was killed when we were rear-ended at high speed on the freeway by a vehicle that was passing emergency vehicles, and whose owner was talking on a cell phone and, if measured under today's blood guidelines, would have had DUI-levels of alcohol in his system. Understandably, the grief that followed was the most complex and lengthy, and I'll spare the detail. Sixteen years later it seems to have been someone else's life, particularly since I've essentially begun a new family since then.
I think the array of experiences has left me a fatalist to some degree. There's nothing I can do to prepare for a loved one to die, because drowning/falling/aging/cancer/collisions lay in wait. While that credo sounds deranged, it also gives me freedom to "live as if each day were my last." Perhaps that explains my penchant for bursting into song upon inspiration from a passing phrase. And explains why I'll voice my opinion or suggestion without fear of rebuke, no matter how far-flung my point may be.
With these fatalistic realities, I take some comfort in that there's nothing I need to do prepare. At the same time, I realize how human we all are and on some late, sleepless nights I shed tears for fear that the unknown can and will happen to me and those I love.