Wednesday, August 13, 2003

On Sunday, after my mum's Birthday Brunch, we dropped Mark's dad off at home and went to No Frills to grab some groceries. It was pretty busy in the store and we didn't need a whole heck of a lot of stuff, mostly just veggies and a bit of meat to get us through the week. We were in the rice aisle, discussing the poor selection of rice and how we'd just pick some up the next time we were at the Asian Market on Princess Street. While we were chatting, I looked up and noticed that a fellow I used to work with had passed me. He didn't see me and he looked pretty focused (I think his wife was at the front of the store with her buggy) so I didn't say "hello."

My first job that didn't involve any babysitting, was working in our local grocery store, Boucher's Amherstview supermarket. I was a cashier and this fellow, Mike, was a full-time grocery guy. At that time, there were 3 full-time grocery guys. Mike was someone who would answer any of my questions with patience and was a lot of fun to work with. This side of Mike surprised me somewhat because he looked kind of scary. At least to me, when I was a little kid. Mike was probably 6 or 7 years older than me, he had a younger sister who was 2 years ahead of me in school and she was a huge bully. I didn't like her at all. Mike's family went to the same church as ours so I knew who he was pretty much my whole life and I figured (wrongly as it happened) that he was a big meanie like his sister.

When I saw Mike in the store on Sunday, I thought to myself, "well, he's put on a little weight since I saw him last but he looks good, tanned and healthy and happy." This morning, my mum called me at work. She had been to mass this morning and was talking to Mrs Beneteau, Mike's neighbour. It turns out that Mike died last night. I guess it must have been his heart. I couldn't believe it. Mike, healthy looking Mike. 40-something Mike, dead, "suddenly at home" it will probably read in the paper tomorrow. It doesn't feel real.

I remember, clearly, when Mike's dad died. His dad was probably in his 50's but to me, a kid still in school, he might as well have been 80. I think he had a bad heart. I wonder if Mike inherited that from his dad. I feel really angry right now. Folks our age aren't supposed to be dropping dead, our parents are supposed to be getting older, winding down...selling their homes and moving into condos or apartments or retirement complexes...Maybe getting sick and dying...But one of us? We're supposed to still be young. We've still got mortgages, some of us have young families. How does something like this happen? I felt this way last year when my friend Elaine passed away. Elaine had breast cancer though so, although we knew that she was sick, we could hope that she would recover. Mike never had a chance, shopping on Sunday, dead on Tuesday. I know that I should be thinking "well then, live each day to the fullest" and stuff like that. What does that mean though? How do you do that exactly?

Not that it would have made one iota of difference at all but I'm thinking now that maybe I should have said hello when I saw him. I wish I could feel sad, say a prayer and feel better. Prayers don't help though, dead is dead. All the praying in the world isn't going to bring him back, it won't comfort his wife or his family. All I feel right now is anger. Dying at 42 just sucks.

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