29 August 2007

People Die/I Saw KN Today

People die.

Intellectually I know this. Emotionally I don't want to deal with it. But I do. I get angry. If they die suddenly and unexpectedly, like a colleague did this month at age 37, it pisses me off that I had no warning and no opportunity for closure and no explanation of why this person is suddenly gone. If they die slowly, like my boss' father who yesterday began hospice, it pisses me off that he's going to suffer and by extension my boss is going to suffer watching him suffer until he dies. As the minister said in The Big Chill "It makes me angry and I don't know what to do with my anger."

Meanwhile, I am attending a conference today and I saw someone standing with her back to me talking to someone else and I looked at the way she had her feet planted and I thought instantly that's KN. Who is KN? She's someone who used to work at my work site but hasn't been working on-site in years. I had no real connection to KN. She was high up in the hierarchy and me, I'm pretty low down in the hierarchy. We'd been introduced a couple times but I don't think we ever even worked on anything together, just found ourselves in the room at the same time and did the polite thing of introductions. I know very little about KN and don't spend any time thinking of her.

Sure enough, she turned around and it was her.

I say all this because I recognized her from the back by the way she placed her feet, and it wasn't like she was in a tree pose or anything. No one would say "Gee, look how she's standing; isn't that odd." It was just a very minor detail but it was distinguishing. And it occurred to me that if my brain stores how KN stands, such an inconsequential thing and person in my life, then how many millions of little things trigger us about the people we actually love? Is it any wonder that we can't bear the pain of separation?

I've lost a good friend this year and had some sobering news and close calls with other loved ones. I'm angry and I'm sad and it doesn't change anything.

But at least I have a place to express it. Thanks for reading. I promise to talk about something bright and chipper and completely trivial next.


Foilwoman said...

Losing friends, anyone, is always hard, and there really is no answer or explanation. My take (sappy as it is) is that life guarantees us pain and loss and sorrow, so we might as well embrace the good when we have it.

Anonymous said...

Your piece really touched me. It is so true that the oddest things resonate with us, like the way KN stood. I have often recognized random people in a similar fashion. Insightful.

lacochran said...

Thank you, foilwoman and anonymous, for taking the time to share your thoughts. I try not to wallow in this emotion but it definitely got to me yesterday.

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