Friday, February 25, 2011
I haven't been writing much. Sorry that a batch of sad news prompts me to join you today, but sadness has long been the best writing prompt I have.
My uncle Darrell, whom I wrote about here, lost his battle with brain cancer early this month. He was the first family member to show up at my parents' house the day my dad died. When I was a little guy, I thought Darrell was some kind of superhero. Dylan bonded to him as a baby more than any other extended family member, and I wasn't surprised. He chose not to have a funeral. That doesn't surprise me either. Our family will get their chance to remember him together, though: my uncle Sid--older brother to Darrell--and my aunt Bettye will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this summer.
We have a Mexican food place here in Redding called Burrito Bandito. Rhonda and I visited it right after they opened several years ago, and we liked it immediately. But, we lamented that it probably wouldn't make it because of its less than ideal location. But, not only have they "made it," they've succeeded due to great service and fresh, tasty food.
I got to be friends with a guy named Al who worked there. Since lunch hours were always crowded, I would go in before or after the work crowd. Al was a warm, engaging guy, the kind of guy who asked, "How you doing?" not as a mere salutation, but because he really wanted to know how you were doing.
I hadn't visited Burrito Bandito in a few months when I stopped by there last month. As I was waiting in line, I saw a photo of Al on the wall. On the top of the photo were the words, "We fondly remember."
Al fell from some height, hit his head, went into a coma in the hospital, and died several days later.
I've known Sherri since the sixth grade. I met her son Jeff and her daughter Jennifer when they were little. Jennifer was an adorable little girl, and Jeff was a bright, engaging little guy with an infectious smile.
This week, Jeff jumped to his death from the Cold Spring bridge, in the backcountry of Santa Barbara County. I've only communicated a couple of times with Sherri since Jeff's death. She's shipwrecked, of course. As for me, I'm having a lot of trouble reconciling my memories of that happy little kid with the young adult who became so overcome with darkness that he ended his own life.
Still, when I look at Jeff's Facebook page, it's clear that Jeff was a light in the lives of many, despite harboring his inner demons. It's also clear that Jeff will be remembered much more for the light he shared with others than the darkness that ultimately claimed him.
Right now, I'm pissed off at life. I should offer something better than that, but I won't. I'll get over it, and I'll be back.