||[Apr. 14th, 2009|01:16 am]
A friend of mine died tonight.|
I do two things really well - I can kick ass in a fine military manner or back alley style (choose yer poison), and I write. Tonight, there was not a single ass I could kick to save my friend.
So I'm going to write about her.
Her name was Crystal, and she'd always been in a wheelchair as long as I've known her. Now, if I had been confined to a wheelchair for the majority of my life, I would be one pissed off, bitter, nasty-tempered man. Shit, I'm in the rosy pink of health with a pretty damn good life, and it wouldn't be too off the mark to call me a pissed off, bitter, nasty-tempered man.
Yet Crystal was always cheerful. Not in that Hallmark, Disney Channel kind of way, but genuinely cheerful. She was a truly nice, good-natured person who could make a joke about her condition with ease. She cooked a mean pot of chili. She was a knitting fiend. She was open about her sexual drives, and could leer at an object of desire like a pedophile at a school playground during recess.
I can't remember exactly when we met, mostly because it was through my friend Mary Jo during a time of heavy drinking (for a lot of us during that period of our lives). I remember her in her wheelchair, grinning and flirty, and I think she offered to give me a ride.
We weren't the hanging out kind of friends - she had her specific circle, and I had mine, but thanks to the modern miracle of social networking, we could keep up on each other's lives regularly. The last time I saw her in person was around Halloween. She looked fine at the start of the evening, but became noticeably weakened as the night wore on.
There were a lot of people in the surgical intensive care when we got there tonight. She'd been unconscious for several days. Her body had essentially failed on her, after years of internal problems that had been held at bay for years.
I'm not good at grief. I'm even worse when surrounded by it. My instinct is to fight, mostly because I'm too lazy to run when my flight instinct kicks in. So I stood still, watching, trying to keep it together. I think I understand now the concept of keeping vigil. There were others there who were experiencing a deeper level of pain and loss than I was, so it was my role to stand and watch, and share their pain. I don't know if it did any good. To me, it had as much value as prayer, which is of no value at all. But there was nothing else I could do.
This is not about questioning why this happened. That's a pointless question. I readily accept that life ultimately has no meaning, beyond what we give to it. And if that's what we need to get through the day, to create our own meaning and call it fate, destiny, or God, I'm quite all right with that. I may not need comfort to deal with pain, but I can't begrudge what others do to get through it.
A lot of people will miss her. I will miss her, knowing that I will never see her again, as a person. I'm not sure what meaning I can create out of that on any level, but I think it means a lot.