Tag Archives: death

Pour one out for your hommies

Unfortunately, this post is appropriately titled. I received some bad news today about a friend of mine that died while lobster diving. Early news says it was a pulmonary embolism, which can, well, wreck your day. This hit me pretty hard and I am feeling uneasy about  this as this is my 3rd friend just this year. I have a very strange and weird relationship with death and no longer ask “why?”

Yoni- Knew this guy from high school and we used to surf together. Cool dude. Tattoo artist and had 2 kids and a wife he very much loved. I never knew he had issues, until I got the call that he threw himself off a bridge. How did I feel? Indifferent and sad. Sad that he went out that way. Not because he was dead, just because he had so much potential ahead of him.

Adam- A guy I grew up with. Surfed with. Worked with. Killed on his motorcycle when hit by a drunk driver. He was 25. Just started his own business and had a great girlfriend. I got a call from our former boss to tell me the news. How did I feel? Disbelief and anger. Angry that this woman pulled out in front of him and took him out. He was just getting going.

Shane- I’ve known Shane for about 8 years. He was a fellow firefighter for the city I worked in and he was my preceptor when I did my rotations during EMS/Fire school. I also worked with his wife on the night shift in the ER. In fact, I remember when they started dating and when they got married. I wish I could be half the man Shane was. I got the text message at work. In fact I was chatting with a friend when it rolled though. How do I feel? Really upset. A strange sadness has hit me.

Why would this death be different? Simple, the fire and emergency services community is like a gang. You cannot get out. Even if someone in that gang hates you, if you are in trouble, they would step up to help. Shane’s wife and I worked almost the same shift for 7 years. In fact we worked so well together, that we always made sure we were together, especially when we were assigned to trauma or “fast track.” We knew what needed to be done and we always had each others back. We were not BFF, but we were down. The kind of down that no words needed to be spoken. She was a constant supporter of anything I did, giving me words of encouragement. She also would break my balls if I stepped out of line and had no problem telling me what was up.

How does this relate to Shane? Simple, my friend fiercely loved him. The woman that had my back for 7 years is now in pain and I can do nothing about it. The medical examiner will not let her see his body. She is in pain and I feel for her. For once, all I can offer my friend is the same generic condolences we offered our patients… it kills me! I am getting to a point in my life where I am seriously thinking about my future in every possible way. What if my wife was taken from me, I wouldn’t want generic “I am sorry’s.” Plus, from day one in school you are told you will die. To die in service and with your brothers in the most honorable thing you can ever do. If you happen to make it to retirement, you will probably die from something you picked up during your term of service; cancer, mesothelioma, hepatitis, anything. Your death would be honored. To be taken out by a PE, that is tough one to take. It hits you with no consolation prize. No epic saga of your deeds. Robbed.

I do however, find it interesting that even though I have been away for 2 years, I still get the messages. My friends who are hurting, like me, reach out to those who will always be there as a support system. I haven’t talked to her in 2 years, but it doesn’t matter. Our professional relationship is a deeply rooted personal one. In that enviroment, the two are not seperate. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So, where do we go from here. I want to let it out and move on. Though, it won’t happen now, it will happen when I am at the services and every fire fighter in the county is there. Dressed in their Class A’s as the bagpipes come down the isle. You want to see an entire room of grown men, fire fighters, cry? Just watch and listen as amazing grace is played through the pipes. That scares the shit out of me. Those tones are all too familiar. It is my mortal fear. Just to know that in the Fir Na Tine tradition, the pipes call our brother home. Below is a traditional send off. The way Shane and all other firefighters of honor get sent off. I could only be so lucky to have the pipes lead me home one day.

A wife has lost a husband. Community has lost a saint. A friend will weep for all.

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Downer Dude

Much like the dreaded Debbie Downer, Downer Dude may bring the general mood of things down a few notches, but things need to be said. The other day I was reading an awesome post by Franco Beans about the Michael Jackson death and the world-wide mourning process. F.B. said, “If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.  There are a lot of people who don’t and I understand that.” I agree with him, because I am one who does not understand.

I come from a very different perspective than most, in fact my outlook is a very “gallows humor” approach. I have been trained to be detached from death and very often laugh at it, because if you don’t it will take you down. The day MJ died, I received several text messages from people who know me extremely well, such as my Sister. The messages read, “Did you hear Michael Jackson is dead?” Me, “Why do I care about the death of an alleged pedophile?” Now, this could be perceived as a hostile statement, but what I was really trying to say is everyone dies and your status is no different. I realize he was acquitted, but I still will never let it go. Any grown man that slept in a bed with other peoples kid’s is suspect.

Why did I fixate on this accusation? Because the only thing that gallows humor cannot protect you from is the death of a child. Unfortunately, I have seen and have been greatly affected by the many tragic deaths of kids; one huge contributing factor of me leaving the trauma center, as it was starting to really affect me in a very negative way. I have pumped on the chest of a 23 y/o male who was struck by lightening, and many, many teenage car accident victims, without flinching. The whole time cracking jokes. A 2 y/o that drowned or was accidentally smothered in their sleep? That will absolutely wreck you.

So why can I differentiate between child death and other death? Simple, it has to do with your innocence value system. At what realistic point do you consider innocence lost? Is their a definable cut-off? The answer for me is yes. When one can make and be held responsible for their actions. My line is around 14 or 15  when the desensitization sets in for me. How does this tie in with MJ? Simple, anyone who challenges the innocence of the defenseless, in my opinion, deserves what they get, regardless of their “iconic status,” because at this point, in my opinion, they are irreputable scum. This does not just apply to children, Michael Vick and those defenseless dogs, had me off the reservation angry. All because they couldn’t fend for themselves.

The second issue I have is the general public and the media that feeds their frenzy. Seriously people, MJ was your life? You are lost without him? When was the last time you two hung out and broke bread, aside from that Halloween in the Hills, where everyone was dressed like him? This is not something new. I remember when Kurt Cobain offed himself and they had a suicide hot-line open for his fans that could not cope with the loss of Kurt. Bradley Nowell, Pac, Biggie and many others have had similar demise followings. I. Don’t. Get. This. At. All.

I will mourn my family, friends, and those who lost their lives through no fault of their own. Military, Fire-fighters, and to lesser extent Police Officers, who are out their trying to retain innocence will get my respect and admiration. Hell, I have told my friends and family if they get cremated, I would incorporate their ashes into tattoo ink, so I can carry them with me forever. I am not completely soulless, just very detached. This is why when I watch the news and see people melting down over someone they never met or had a symbiotic relationship with, I don’t get it. I know music and entertainment is fully incorporated into our lives something fierce; however, it doesn’t mean it IS our life.

Yes, everyone should mourn the dead in their own way. Mourning a death, tragic or not, of someone you do not know, I can dig it. Though, if you are on t.v. telling everyone “you will be lost without him” or “he was my life” I am fairly sure you are a candidate for a restraining order at some point in your life. Seriously, the last time we heard from the man was 2001 with his release of Invincible, which is kind of ironic.

This entire post has the intentional tone and hue of cynicism for a reason; that’s just the way I am. My distanced approach to things of this matter, have cost me many things such as sleep, relationships, and the faith that people are genuinely good without question. I agree 100% with Franco Beans, that this man did things for entire groups of people that no one can fathom and I will not take that from him. In fact MTV, Hip-Hop, and various forms of other entertainment just would not exist; though racial boundaries still might.

I guess my conclusion of a somewhat cohesive post would have to be, that I just don’t get or understand people on such a base level. Either my experiences have stolen that from me or they protect me from such connection. I have never understood why people still dress up and believe Elvis is god, nor have I understood an obsessive fan that cries out that they are lost without said person. In my mind, to cherish a performer, or to revert back to the image you have of them, it is far easier to listen to their music and or watch them on film. This would allow one to revert back to the period in time when they were on their game.

Yes, we should remember them for their good, but never forget their bad.

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