10 Feb 2012

When someone dies

People are dying all the time. Ones sees so many horrors when looking at what is known as "the news" that to mention the death of a single person seems derisory, maybe even indecent. When death takes someone close to you, one enters the realm of the intimate, be the event dramatically untimely or simply in the natural order of things, like for someone who has lived a long time. In any case, if the death is of that intimate nature, I usually do not feel inclined to talk about it in public. But what about someone that you barely know, just an acquaintance?

I heard just this morning that a guy I knew slightly because we frequented the same gym had been killed a couple of months ago, in a motorcycle accident. It shocked me. I had not seen him for a while, but then such things happen all the time: people move, or decide to go to another gym, or whatever. But I did find it strange that he had said nothing. This morning I happened to be in the changing room with another regular and asked him what had happened to Guillaume. He told me. I had to sit down.

I did not even know Guillaume's second name. He was a regular at the gym, very friendly and with the kind of light sense of humour that I enjoy. A really nice guy and the kind of person that, when you see him and exchange a smile and a couple of words, makes you glad that you have gotten up early to go and suffer for an hour or so. He was in good shape and used to running 10 kilometre races. We discovered that we were both bikers and talked a bit about this, amongst other things. From what I heard this morning he touched the edge of a secondary road on one of his weekend outings and lost it, going off the road. I know no more details and do not want to. He rode a Honda Fireblade. I never rode with Guillaume although we had discussed doing this sometime this spring.

Death has the definitive edge to it that nothing else can have. I don't believe in any form of life after death. I read, also this morning and in an excellent book that I have just finished, the following line, spoken by one of the characters right at the end of the book and after the death of one of them: "you are alive, so don't complain, for you anything is possible". For Guillaume this is not the case. Will I take more care when riding? Very probably. Will I stop riding bikes? No.