I found out yesterday that a friend of mine was killed in a car accident. We weren’t extremely close, but we’d had an ongoing friendship for several years. In some ways I could completely relate to him, as our experiences had been similar: large family, high-tech career, and a painful struggle to figure out how to proceed in the aftermath of the collapse of our faith. That was how we connected in the first place, as we were both in a tough place in our lives; he helped me with his support and kindness, and I hope I was able to help him in a small way.

But in other respects he was way out of my league in terms of accomplishments. He was absolutely brilliant, had earned several degrees–one at Oxford–and was legal counsel at one of the most successful corporations in the world. In short, he was the kind of guy that inspired a sort of awe in me.

And yet he was as down to earth as anyone I know and never talked down to me or anyone else. That, I think, is what defined him: as well-read and accomplished as he was, he was always just himself, with no pretense and no need to remind people of how much more he had done in a relatively short life than most of the rest of us ever will.

Sometimes I think I want to go out and accomplish something big, and maybe I will someday, but really, yesterday’s news reminds me that the best thing you can do with your life is just to be a good, kind person with a loving heart.  The world lost someone who did just that yesterday.


4 Responses to Perspective

  1. vikingz2000 says:

    I’m sixty-six years old and have been ‘losing’ people (old friends, acquaintances) for a while now, and not just the usual aged relatives. In fact, about eight years ago I ‘lost’ a son just before his twentieth birthday. I’m still not over this, really, although I’m not so much unbearably affected like I once was (but I do, at times, have relapses). I try to remind myself that Matt wasn’t any more ‘special’ existentially than any other great kid his age (and even a lot younger than nineteen) who died. I try to remind myself that young men and women (‘kids’, actually) died by the _thousands_ just in recent wars while serving in the US armed forces, let alone all the other kids throughout the whole world by not only wars, but myriad types of illnesses, accidents, etc..

    Some people say, “Life is a bitch,” but is it, really? Life and death are two sides of the same coin, i.e., we’re ‘dead’ as soon as we are born—you can’t ever be born and never die. I just think the sadness, the tragedy, is more about the relationships we had with those we knew. I think back on my son’s life and the times we had together and feel some regret that I didn’t do more for him, or together with him as well as, like you said, “the best thing you can do with your life is just to be a good, kind person with a loving heart.” (was I too hard on him at times?). I think this is probably normal thinking for most parents, but it still gives me pause to wonder, and consequently feel some sort of regret that amplifies the remorse.

    Of course, notwithstanding any sort of ‘perspective(s)’ there is always going to be the unmitigated aspect of him not ever having lived ‘a full life’ no matter what our relationship was, and this _is_ hard to rationalize in any sort of effective way. In fact, just writing these words I’m starting to feel quite emotional—sick at heart.

    Death is a bitch.

    • runtu says:

      Yes, it is. I lost my two younger brothers in a car accident when they were 20 and 18. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of them and grieve. I think my friend’s death just reminded me yesterday that he did things the right way, and I want to do that, too.

  2. vikingz2000 says:

    I might add that usually when I write something at the computer I listen to my iTunes library. While I was writing what I just posted above, ironically a piece that I composed a while back started to play. If you want, you can listen to it on Reverbnation. It’s the one called, ‘The Dead’:

    Best to you, my friend, and especially with regard to the shared aspects of our journeys in ‘life’.

  3. Camille Biexei says:

    Death comes at all ages. My cousin died when I was 8, my grandfather the year after. A good friend committed suicide when we were 20, a best friend died when we were 24. So many people I have known and loved have died–prematurely, in my opinion–friends, lovers, relatives. But, what do I know, really? I just miss some them. A lot.
    I remind myself that life is the “reward,” not what comes after life. I want to live it as fully as I can, remembering what is important which is, as you wrote, “just to be a good, kind person with a loving heart.” What a great legacy your friend left. Thanks for sharing this.

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