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.