09 June 2010

what news

This would be sad news.

I have a fairly large extended family. On it, there's a side that I visit with, shall we say infrequently. For example, I've cousins I've not seen since they were small children and several I've never met at all. One such cousin I'd seen last in his teen days. He seemed to like playing Civilization, which was about all I got out of that meeting. Prior to that, it'd been a while (I think I remember seeing him at the diaper stage).

I gathered that his being half-Korean was occasionally difficult (living in the south seems like it mostly sucks, but it probably does more so when you're the odd man out). I gathered that his mother was totally absent and his father was mostly so, so he was stuck/left with grandparents and great-aunts/aunts a lot. For the most part, I was not driven to inquire about the comings and goings of this side of the family. Actually I'm not typically driven to inquire about the comings and goings of either side, but I find out more about the side that lives in neighbouring states and towns with minimal effort. So I don't know a whole lot about the cousins or uncles and aunts out that way. I hear some stuff now and then about the grandparents building beehives and getting replacement joints and other various scourges of age and retirement, and not much else. And they of course were at the brother's wedding not long ago and seemed in good spirits and health. So things that I know little or nothing about seem to work out sometimes.

So to push the spider into the story a little quicker, this teenage kid that liked playing Civilization ended up with an aggressive form of leukemia, had it treated for a few months and died yesterday. Only a few weeks out from attending his prom. Somebody who knows more will have to be a proper eulogizer. That's the quick version.

I'm sure lots of people will question why. I have some fortune, or given my views on life and death maybe they do, not to be the one who will get this question asked. I suppose this is tragic, in the sense that young people do not tend to get dread diseases and die. I don't know enough to say that with definition that it was indeed tragic. But it seemed to me like he lived quite well as he could in his last year from what I had gathered (other than the misfortunes of being quite sick and dying parts of it). So far as I would say, that's all you could ask for as a human being.

As far as why he died, well he acquired or developed a dread disease. There's not much getting aside that point. I'm not the person to ask questions of when/if people seek consolation and comfort about death, that's all I can tell you.

This is pretty much the view of things that I'd take:

"There's a little boy and on his 14th birthday he gets a horse... and everybody in the village says, "how wonderful. The boy got a horse" And the Zen master says, "we'll see." Two years later, the boy falls off the horse, breaks his leg, and everyone in the village says, "How terrible." And the Zen master says, "We'll see." Then, a war breaks out and all the young men have to go off and fight... except the boy can't cause his legs all messed up. and everybody in the village says, "How wonderful." ... We'll see".

Life has a very long storyline to it. When it ends, you can maybe see how it all played out. Ideally you yourself look back on it toward it's end with some joy or wonder, maybe some questions, a few regrets, and then that's it. Whatever you brought with you is whatever you're getting out of it. Everything else is just decoration and flourish and maybe, hopefully, a flavourful sauce to pour over everything you've got. That makes a life "meaningful" to the person who lived it.

But there's not a whole lot somebody else can do to find meaning in a death. Only some unanswered questions and maybe some regrets to look back on themselves some day.
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