I received devastating news that a classmate had a stroke.
That was last night.
I got up this morning, early, to work, and was preparing notes to write my rant about the Supreme Court striking down the key provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
Then the news came in a phone call.
He passed away this morning.
My entire class, the people I grew up with, are grappling with loss of life, barely six months after we experienced the loss of someone, also 49, just 3 months shy of his 50th birthday, who left here way too soon.
All we have is the dash, truly, that is all we have.
He leaves behind his ex-wife, the mother of his children, his grandchildren, his new fiance, his siblings, his mother, his grandmother, cousins, nieces, nephews. And us. His classmates, his homies. There weren't that many of "us" in our town so "we" all knew each other, even if our lives sent us in different directions, there is something connecting to that childhood cohort.
49 is too young, simply too young.
Living the dash has taken on much more meaning.
His mother delivered my son, my 26 year old. Our lives are connected. His eldest son is the same age as my eldest angel-son, separated by a few months, just like he and I were separated by a few months in age.
We ask the questions. Friends just talked about him speaking in church Sunday, he was not a public speaker and while I vividly remember his playfulness and vivid smile, there was a quiet, shy demeanor about him.
That was his last speaking, his last day there, at the old church, before the new one is dedicated. Now, he is at the feet of the ONE we all want to see.
But we continue to ask, why?
49 is simply too young to die.
Die. He is dead? You are kidding me, right?
My loss, our loss, the loss of our crew is nothing compared to what his family is feeling.
What is it about knowing someone, them being in the universe is all we need to know that they are ok, we are ok, they exist, a part of us still exists, seeing him in the halls of Jeff Junior High School. We exist, now, gone, another empty space in our common experience.
I am numb and dumbfounded.
Simply too young.