January is almost over and I’ve had death as a visitor three times now.
Once as a memory and twice in real-time.
Today I’m going to tell you about one of the deaths that touched me in real-time.
My husband works in a trucking company, here in the city.
Last week the company had a death. One of its drivers parked his truck on the side of a notorious highway, stepped out to check his trailers and was hit by another tractor-trailer.
He was just a young man, not even thirty, with friends and family who loved him and a whole big life ahead of him. Or so everybody thought.
My man, being the closest manager to the site, was tasked with travelling to the truck to clean out the drivers belongings and send them back to his family while another driver drove the truck home
After a full day of things that must have been emotionally taxing, my Hubs comes home to me full of tales and awful information. Things I don’t need to know. Things no person alive needs to know.
Mind you, he saw things he never needed to see so I feel I got off lucky.
We’re all fucking lucky because that boy’s family has experienced something no family should ever experience. We live our lives while theirs slam to a halt with horror and grief.
What a privilege it is to be alive and experience whatever peace we have…
My man and I are chatting away, Hubs venting, trying to get all the horror out. Me receiving, hands at my heart, shivering with emotion. He puts his wallet, keys and phone on top of our fridge, then plops his suitcase on the counter and opens it up.
“This is gonna freak you out” he says and right away I know. He’s brought the boys belongings home for safe keeping.
I stop his hands as he tries to unzip his bag. “Wait!” I say ” I want to take a moment…” he scoffs at me ” You aren’t smudging the house.” ” No” I counter “I don’t give a shit about that! I just want to…I don’t know. These things are special. I want to make sure we recognize them as such.” He smiles at me and says softly “I know.”
Before I can even blink, he’s at his bag again, and out comes another wallet, another set of keys and another phone.
Ordinary items they appear to be but I know better.
These are precious treasures.
His mum was hoping they’d be found and brought back home. And here they are. In my house.
And up they go.
Onto the top of my fridge.
One. Two. Three.
Right beside my husbands own wallet, keys and phone.
The living and the dead. Side by side. Plain as you please.
I’m so struck by this.
How is it possible that a person can die that way?
How is it possible that when you die, a stranger goes through your belongings and places them alongside their own, on top of their fridge-because that’s where wallets,keys and phones go-?
How is it possible that all that is left of a young life are these simple, ordinary things?
My husband means well. I know he does. He’s placing these things alongside his own as a sign of respect. His own way to say that this boy and his things are respected here. That he mattered.
As a mother, thinking of that other mother in such pain, I feel compelled to do something more. These are not just ordinary things to be set next to other ordinary things. These items need to be treated with something far greater than just respect.
They need reverence.
So I run to my art room and grab a box that I’m using to hold beautiful quotes in. I take out the quotes and fit the wallet, keys and phone inside, touching the key chain that depicts a place I’ve loved and travelled to myself.
My heart cracks a little bit more. I will remember these items for the rest of my life.
The lid doesn’t quiet close but I feel better knowing that these items have been cared for as such. I send a love prayer to the other mother and hope that somehow, when these items arrive back home to her, she’ll know that they were cared for, too.
Impermanence sure is a bitch. True or not. Am I closer to grasping it? Begrudgingly I guess. I still don’t like it. But then, I don’t have to like it. I just have to accept it.
I read something the other day about how when death comes calling one ought to thank it. Yeah…ok…maybe if one is removed from it…but even that seems awful. I am grateful for the reminder, even though it pisses me off that a young guy had to die like that.
Not that my opinion matters an ounce. Or anyone else’s for that matter.
This is life.
And there is death.