I heard some sad news yesterday. My friend's co-worker was killed in a car accident on January 2; she was a bartender at Dante's Inferno, and had served me many beers on New Years Eve. A tiny girl, with that perfectly aloof bartender's personality which makes you both lust and cringe, she was well loved. I didn't know her, but I have drunk many beers served up by her, and she was too young to go. But that's not the point. Since I didn't know her, I can't write about her in any meaningful way. But because I was acquainted with her, a death like hers always brings home how fleeting and fickle life is. A young girl of 24 is driving home one night and gets hit and killed instantly by some other driver; it is this conflict of the mundane meeting the extraordinary that shocks us. She was there, and in one short breath, she wasn't.
I found that when I heard the news, I wondered about the details. At first I thought I was being inappropriately morbid and curious; after all, I didn't really know her. But then I realized that I was struggling to understand what had happened. I asked myself questions: Was there bad weather? Was the other driver at fault? Was she drunk? Was there an oil spot on the road? Was she changing the radio station, applying her lipstick, rubbing dust from her eye? It turns out that none of these things would get me any closer to answering the real question: why did she die?
And that's the point. That there is no point. Death is as mysterious and strange now in the twenty-first century as it was when we developed consciousness. When it comes completely unexpectedly, it is all the more mysterious because the immediacy of it shocks us, scares us, and makes us question ourselves. We look for meaning, which is why we ask the obvious and absurd questions, and run through all of the mundane facts so that we might extrapolate some seed of understanding. But there is none. And that is what scares us, that death in its capriciousness is quite the democrat, and can find any one of us anywhere at any time. Death is indifferent to whether or not we deserve it, whether we are good or bad, whether we think it is our time.
I know that she is missed. I will think of her often when I go back to Dante's. And then life will move forward for her co-workers and friends and family, impoverished for the loss, but moving ahead none-the-less. And this is reassuring, a little terrifying, and very sad.
Cheers, sweet girl.