The Thing About Death

I write that title like I have some kind of answer. Sorry to disappoint. A friend died this morning following a third heart attack. He was one of those friends all of us have: from another lifetime. When children were young and all was well in our little world. Before divorces split families and our group of friends apart. Before I knew I was gay and my life turned inside out. Before 9/11 and everyone’s life turned inside out. Before my father died. Before, before, before.

The shock and sadness and, yes, anger of his death are not diminished by the fact that I had seen him only a handful of times in the past many years. Nor by the fact that he had been very sick and is released now. People my age who are full of life, joy, and purpose should not be leaving this world yet. And I’m just going to say it, and risk reader wrath: people who are 98, not enjoying life, and making those around them miserable should be the ones to go. So there is the thing about death, and life: it isn’t fair.

I dropped a stitch in my knitting last night. Although it left a hole as it fell down the rows, the mitten did not fall apart. The sum of all the stitches woven together is stronger than any one stitch. But the piece is diminished when a stitch leaves the weave, so I pulled the loop back up with a crochet hook, reknitting it into each row, and slid it back on the needle.

When I moved back to Washington, I hooked up with a high school friend. We knit our lives back together, and I am happy to say that stitch is back on the needle. Next week I’m going to visit my best friend…from junior high. We haven’t seen each other in nearly 50 years; but thanks to Facebook, we got out the crochet hook a couple of years ago. Next week we will start hooking our relationship back up through the rows. Maybe someday the stitch will go back on the needle.

There will be no slipping this friendship back onto the needle, or even looping it back up through the years. That hope is gone. That hole is permanent. But the weave that is my life includes him, and it is stronger for having known his friendship.

Happy trails, my friend.



8 thoughts on “The Thing About Death”

  1. You know, i think i have as many thots about my own death, etc., as i do about others’…hmmm…still, there’s generosity to give, a shawl to knit!


  2. What a wonderful analogy, comparing an out-of-touch friend to a dropped knitting stitch. I also liked your honesty about the elderly who’s life has become a burden to them. I saw this too in my own parents .


  3. I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your friend, and the sadness you feel. I met another friend today who just recently lost a long-time friend suddenly due to complications after minor surgery. Very sad…perspective-giving…AGAIN.


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