The community of Moscow, especially the mountain biking community within, has been reeling this week with news of yet another death. Another, relatively young, man in his prime, gone from this world. It hurts. I don’t like death, but especially untimely death. Death happens to old people, folks who have lived a full life, individuals who are at peace with what they have done, and ready to pass on. Well….that’s the way it is supposed to work. But it doesn’t. I’ll never get used to death. But, I do know that I have to accept it. Death is part of life…for all of us. Young, in the middle, old. Lazy, energetic, out of shape, fit, sick or healthy. We are all going to die. I have to accept death.

Death, when it happens to someone in their prime…is not pretty. Bodies, when fit and young, fight. They fight for that last breath. They fight to stay connected. It doesn’t take much to pull out visions of Jim at his death from that part of my brain where I have sealed it away. I’ll never know what he felt, it did not look like peace. His body, anyway, really wanted to keep on trying. I don’t like death, but I have to accept it. It will happen to all of us.

JT  was someone I knew through Moscow Mountain. Every time I was up there riding, I would see him. It was not serendipity, it was just that I came up when I could…but he was there all the time. JT was a great mountain biker. He could ride trails up, that I couldn’t dream of riding down. But…I would get there early, he slept in. I would see him when I was finishing my ride, he was just setting out. We always stopped. We always talked. He wasn’t looking at his watch. I was in post ride bliss and am always looking for an excuse to get off my bike. I saw JT the weekend before he died. He looked good. Healthy. In love with life…and perhaps who he was riding with. We chatted. I wished him a good ride. Now he is dead. I have to accept death.

There is a lot of advice stating one should live their life as if each day could be their last. “What are you going to do with this one wild and precious life?” But, is that enough? Perhaps we should be thinking, “what if the person who I am interacting with will die tomorrow, what is left unsaid?” I did not go to the MAMBA potluck last weekend. I ran on the mountain and was helping with a campaign in the morning, and had house guests arriving that evening. The weather was clear, and there was end of the season yard work calling my name. I missed my last opportunity to run into JT on the trail. I wish I hadn’t. He died the next evening. I have to accept death.

I have to accept death. It happens to unborn babies and sick kids. It will happen to my parents, and though I hope it is after me, my children. It will hit my close family and circle of friends, and my community. It will happen again and again and again. I will try to live each day as if it could be the last…mine, or the person I am with. I have to accept death, but I don’t have to like it.

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3 Responses to Death

  1. Phil Druker says:

    We all die. Sometimes we know the license plate number of the truck that’s going to hit us. Sometimes we don’t. I’m guessing we all do the best we can with our time. Jim Tarter was a great guy, a survivor, a wonderful thinker, and a fine friend. His passing is another reminder of how precious life is, how precious each moment, each breath.

    Thanks for the posts, Kathie.
    Phil D

  2. Thank you for writing these pieces on JT. I used to live in Moscow for quite a few yrs & knew Jim & considered him a friend (amazing soul) and his passing has hit me in a big way. The sudden-ness of it & not being able to be in the Moscow community during this time has been difficult. Your blog entries are a wonderful tribute to JT and I am so fortunate to have found your site (come across it through pure happenstance!). And you are right, if I had a say, death would be for the well-lived, well-worn folks, not the ones in their prime. I know that all too well. My dad passed away at 51. It is so hard to make sense of how one life can extend 105 years and the next 8 and the next 52 and the next 99. I want answers. Because in many cases these are my friends, loved ones who pass on. “It was (his) time.” I don’t understand that phrase. Probably never will. Especially for someone in the prime of their life. You want to grab ’em by the arm and pull ’em back toward you. –Leslie Einhaus /

  3. Jim Boland says:

    Hey Phil, I’m not gonna ever die and you shouldn’t either! Just because everyone else
    before us did is no reason to go along with the herd. As long as we are on the the green side of the grass the chance to continue indefinitely exists. YOU could be the first one to live forever!!(Someone will probably kill me)
    …..and you still are not retarded enough to shoot the canon!

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