I remember it like it was yesterday. Our good friend Shawn had left us a message on our answering machine. Figuring it was too late to call him, we thought nothing about returning his call the next morning. Except for Shawn...there wouldn't be a tomorrow. As a matter of fact, he had already been dead for a couple of hours, dying in a tragic car accident.
The next day I went to work, complained bitterly about my hair and resolved to get a trim after work. Eating dinner, I noticed my husband was more silent than usual. Struggling to speak, he told me that Annette, Shawn's new wife had called him. Shawn was dead. We immediately rushed over to see Annette, bringing chocolate and whatever else we thought would make her feel better. This wasn't a breakup or bad day at work, this was death and not even chocolate can conqueror that.
With a hefty dose of denial (thinking Shawn was going to call us back anytime) and grief, we listened to his message over and over again. We were most likely the last people he called before he died and the only ones that had his voice. Weeks and months went by and we couldn't figure out what to do about the Shawn's voice on the machine. Should we delete it? Keep it? Share it with his wife and family?
Knowing what we knew about Annette and Shawn's family, we recorded it. Unfortunately, we lost Shawn all over again. Our computer, which we were recording his message onto, died. Thus, silencing him forever. His enthusiastic, "Hey Joe, hey Theresa," were never to be heard again. That was three years ago.
During the past year, I have known directly or indirectly several people who have died young (under the age of 60). One, I discovered was dead from facebook. She was my cousin Leslie's friend, who died in a car accident shortly after her high school reunion. Some of her former classmates didn't find out she was dead, until my cousin had posted it on her facebook page. Many of her former classmates were wanting anxiously to be "friended" by her and were beginning to feel slighted for her lack of response. After all, you can change your marital and dating status and how many children you have on facebook, but there isn't a "I've died" or "Gone to Heaven" status.
Tombstones, clothing, a personal object, a special toy, were all things that reminded people of their dead loved ones in the past. The digital age, however, makes death more complicated. Facebook pages are still up accepting friend requests, blogs still "active" and voices are left on an answering machine, while their pictures and voices haunt us. How can he be dead if I can still hear his voice or see his facebook page?
I have stopped asking why some people die young, while others live to a ripe old age. As J.R.R Tolkien said,
“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.” Tolkien has always given me hope after a tragic death and I feel I must leave you in his presence...
“End? No, it doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one which we must all take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all change to silver glass… And then you see it… White shores, and beyond, a far green country, under a swift sunrise.”
Proof that I am Happy:
Don't Let Your Children Dress Like Hobos!