Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Near misses, near hits

When DeDe was here for my birthday, we drove to Temple, TX (near Austin) to visit her father-in-law who's been sick with lung disease.

Let me clarify. He was almost my father-in-law too, several years ago, because DeDe's brother-in-law is my ex.

Anyway, I haven't seen the man in a long time. He was asleep on the couch when we got there but he got up and moved around fine, dragging his oxygen tank behind him on a carrier-type thing. He even had a cigarette and a beer while we visited. Yes. He had a cigarette. While he was hooked up to an oxygen tank. All I could think about the whole time was Roy Scheider blowing up the shark with one well aimed shot at an oxygen tank at the end of Jaws.

But I digress.

Wayne died last night. They sent him home from the hospital because his lungs were filling with fluid faster than they could pump them out. They told him he was going to die, so he wanted to go home. And last night he just quit breathing. I'm assuming that, technically, you could call it death by drowning.

Less than a month ago, he was sitting at a table on the back porch, smoking, drinking, and chatting it up; now he's dead. I'm not going to get into the whole, how-crazy-he-was-to-still-be-smoking-while-he-was-hooked-up-to-an-oxygen-tank issue. I have enough of my own crazy habits without self-righteously judging someone else's addiction.

It's just weird when someone you know dies.

It's the one time we come face to face with the inevitable. There's no shelfing it. There's no not thinking about it. Someone we know, someone we've talked with, hugged, connected with, is now in a place that is totally unkown, but a place we're going to be someday. Without a doubt. Weird.

One thing on the other side is for sure. Smoking won't be an option. Unless you're on fire.


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