This has been a tough month for bad news. There's all the economy stuff, yes. But beyond that, I've had too much news of long ago friends and acquaintances having died recently.
I'm not old enough yet to be scanning the daily obituaries for familiar names. These are people in their 40s and 50s I'm hearing about. Lives cut short by alcoholism; cancer; sudden, inexplicable heart failure; accidents.
On one hand, they are people I'd lost touch with, or didn't spend time with independently of other, closer friends, or barely knew at all except to say hey-how-ya-doin' in passing. Still, each one feels like a loss, and given the close timing of their unrelated deaths, it's been a strange and unsettling month.
I feel disoriented and inarticulate and sad.
The latest news came in today's paper: a friend of my former husband just died in a chain saw accident in a town I once lived in and loved. My ex, my former brother-in-law, and several other friends were (are) loggers as well. The possibility of that kind of accident was a constant background anxiety in my life for a long time. It was a tough headline to see. The microseconds before I got to the phrase "...and father of five" -- ruling out my former spouse -- were tense.
I am thinking of those guys now; of how, when I knew them, they'd gather in one or the other's driveway after the day's work, sometimes just to touch base, sometimes for hours-long storytelling sessions. How they'd known each other since they were boys, and had years and years of stories on hand. How you wouldn't go two continuous minutes on the road without seeing one of their trucks, and each man had his own style of offhand wave as you passed. How news of any one of them spread to the others through the package store where they all got their Budweiser. Cases, upon cases, upon cases of Bud. How there would be pissing contests -- figurative and literal. (One of the guys could pee over a Suburban, the long way. It was legendary.) How working partnerships sometimes formed between them, but always dissolved eventually. It seems that men drawn to tree work are often those who work most happily alone.
I am picturing them gathering now, and I imagine the Bud is flowing as it did in younger days.