Sharp eyed readers will have noticed that it's been a tad dark in DaveLand over the last week or two. Several people have written to both express concern and to offer support. I'm blessed. Though it's still tough, I realize that all it would take is a slight breeze to shift the storm clouds hold up, resolutely, over my head. In the midst of that, today, we got some news - not a breeze but more rain.
It's tough to report here, because this is not the kind of thing easily spoken about. Someone we know died today. Not a friend. Not even someone we liked. An acquaintance of a friend. He died alone. Unloved. Unliked. He systematically drove away family and friends. What fellowship he had was with those who worked in his office - where he was finally fired for abusing his power over his staff. He went to restaurants, tipped well, for the privilege of hurling insults at waiters and tantruming over service. He was harsh and bitter and angry. On the few times I met him, I left, always, feeling a sense of relief that I'd survived the interchange.
The news of his death was met, by all we know who knew him, with relief. Relief that his mean spirit been set free, relief that their guilt for not visiting was over. None visited him because all feared him. He tore strips off people at the slightest provocation. He wanted visitors, not to visit, but to practise his aim. And his aim was good. He'd lashed out and hurt people as far back as anyone can remember. None can remember far because no one stayed long in his range.
And he died.
Most people we've talked to say "Maybe he's happy now."
I admit. I loathed the man. I loathed how his abused the power he had. I loathed how he hurt people willingly and purposefully. I loathed how he made a sport out of inflicting pain. I did. I do. I can't lie.
A woman, I loved, once told me before she passed away, that she wanted to be remembered for the life she lived and for the personality she had. She didn't want to become the generic dead, "had a kind word for everyone" "would give you the shirt off her back" "made everyone smile" "everyone who knew her loved her". She didn't want death to take the life she lived uniquely and individually, the life that she had made completely her own, and make it an unreal generic life. She wanted to be remembered for her passions, for her temper, for her vision, for her mistakes, for her triumphs, for the bitch on heels that she could be, for the passionate woman and mother that she was. She wanted, in the parlance of today's services, a 'person centered' death ... and she wanted people to have 'person centered' memories. I so agree with her.
I can't say, now, the bland lies that we tell of the lives of those who have died.
I can't mourn a pretend life not actually lived.
He was a mean, spiteful, hurtful man.
And he died.
One person I talked to today about him said, "He pushed people away, he got the death he deserved."
I don't know that I can think that anyone deserves to die alone and unloved and unliked. No one. I don't sit here writing this feeling guilt that I never visited him. I didn't know him, didn't even really know he was that sick. He was on the periphery of my life.
A few years ago I saw an odd picture of this man. He'd gone to the cemetery where he would be buried. He'd hired a photographer to take pictures of him there. Standing above the place where he would lay. He wanted to see it. I'd seen, through an odd series of happenstances, a couple shots. One showed him standing looking down at the ground, him in shadow, the sun's weak rays lit the ground before him. Warming it.
In shadow, I couldn't see the expression on his face.
I'm told he was crying.
I don't even want to guess why.
It would hurt too much.