I was very young, maybe five, when my grandfather passed away. I hadn't really gotten a chance to get to know him. I just knew that he was my grandfather and that sometimes he would give me maraschino cherries. I remember seeing him in his coffin and someone trying to explain to me what death was. As far as I could figure, people just shut off one day and couldn't be turned back on. It made sense to me. I don't remember being sad. I was still in the beginning stages of learning how everything in life worked and death was just part of it. I accepted it with the same matter of fact attitude as learning that people needed to eat, sleep, and breath. People also needed to die. Everyone around me seemed so sad, so I tried to emulate them as best as possible. I didn't want to be rude.
From middle school through high school, at least one kid in my class would die every year. After a while it just seemed like a really crappy lottery, but one we all had to play. I didn't really know anyone who passed, I had just seen them around. Frankly, I didn't really care for the vast majority of people at school, so it didn't really break my heart.
I was twenty before anyone knew died that I actually cared about. I wrote about that here. Ever since then, whenever I heard about someone dying, it affected me. It didn't matter if I barely knew them, it would bother me for days.
Sunday morning my girlfriend's mother passed. I never met her, but watching the hurt in her daughter's eyes was excruciating.
Today I found out that a guy I used to larp with passed away. He was also one of my bosses at my old job. The man was not easy to get along with, but he honest-to-god meant well, and I could see that. He taught me everything what was worth knowing at that company. He didn't so much take me under his wing as much as kick me out of the nest above Piranha Lake. He did it because he knew I could fly, but only when severely motivated. The company attitude was too cut-throat to maintain a decent quality of life, so I left. What he taught me will always be of use. He pushed a lot of people away. I think it was because he was always looking for people who could keep up with him. To me it was a very relevant lesson of what not to do. Sometimes I get carried away with what I think is great about me and forget to acknowledge what's great about other people, too. I don't want to think that the only good qualities are the ones that I possess.
Yesterday evening I found out that an old friend's heart stopped beating for a few seconds. He passed out and gashed his head on the floor. He is doing okay-ish now, but he is scheduled to get a pacemaker tomorrow.
The last couple of days have been filled with so much anxiety that I can barely function. These haven't been people I'm close to, or at least not for some time. I think somehow that adds its own particular sense of dread. It's the creeping entropy that comes to unravel your life at the edges. It's just a glimpse at first, but it gets closer and closer as the years go by. It's the promise that sooner or later it's going to be someone that you can't move past, and that you'll never be whole again.
If you're still with me through all of this obnoxious sadness, I'd like to reward you by showing you the happiest thing in this world: A pooping sloth. Trust me. You'll want to see this. It will redefine your understanding of joy.