I walked out of Fred Meyer this morning and decided to check my e-mail on my phone. My manager sent an e-mail telling staff that one of our regular, and beloved, patrons had died unexpectedly last week. I was stunned. I stood there on the sidewalk in the rain, saying “oh no!” to myself (and anyone within earshot). The message went on to tell the details. He had driven into town, as he did everyday, came home and passed away in his truck in his driveway. It was most likely a heart attack or a stroke.
The thought of him dying alone in his truck just makes me sad.
I am heartbroken. I see this person every day. He is a part of my daily routine at work. I have helped him with several reference questions and have had dozens of conversations with him, about all sorts of things. He was the kind of person who liked to think and would make you think when you talked to him. My conversations with him are what got me really interested in learning how to play an instrument to use in story time. His thought was that music was “the most important thing” and his passion for it really lit a fire under me!
He was also a very thoughtful person. He was always bringing us doughnuts. He brought hershey’s kisses everyday to library staff and his daily joke was always, “here’s your kiss” (he was a big flirt). Damn. I am going to miss that. I am going to miss him. My day is going to be a little less bright without him in it.
The last time I saw him was a week ago Saturday. I was working at the new library, checking in books. He drove by in his truck. He was driving by very slowly, peeking in the window, checking to see how progress was on our new library.
I don’t do very well with death. In my meditation group we talked about the idea of the koan being the thing that you think about, that you work on all the time. That thing that you can never seem to figure out with logic. Death is most certainly my koan. I don’t understand it. There is a part of me that asks, “why do people have to die?” And why does it hurt so badly when they do die? It just completely breaks my heart. Maybe I’m a selfish person but I don’t want that person to leave. I want them in my life. I appreciate it when people say things like, “He is in a better place now” (and I honestly do not doubt it). However, the words don’t give me much comfort (the intention of the person speaking is what gives me comfort). I want that person to be here. I want them to be in my life. I don’t want them to be gone forever.
Maybe I am just selfish. I don’t know. But that is how I feel.