When death comes too soon…Posted: June 22, 2013
This is not actually about James Gandolfini or Jeff Hanneman…
We read about death all the time in the news. We experience it when loved ones grow old and die. It’s a part of life.
Recently, I was somewhat surprised to learn that Jeff Hanneman of thrash metal legends Slayer had died of liver failure. I was surprised simply because I didn’t know that he was having problems along those lines, but it’s not surprising when you consider the amount of alcohol he likely consumed throughout his life.
In April, I visited my grandmother, who has been suffering from emphysema and skin cancer for a long time. I wanted to see her because I wasn’t sure how long she would live, and I’m glad I did. She was in her mid-80s when she died on the morning of June 10th, presumably in her sleep. Her death is a relief in many ways – she no longer has to suffer – but she was a wonderful woman, and it has obviously saddened everyone in her family and circle of friends. I’m so glad that I got to see her one more time – we had fun that night, and it was a blessing to be there with her for an evening.
For us, it’s always too soon, but she lived a long, full life, and she went when it was her time.
On Wednesday, James Gandolfini, who was best known for playing Tony Soprano, died of a heart attack in Italy. It was something that saddened me. I obviously didn’t know the guy, but when someone burns himself into your consciousness through the television as thoroughly as he did for so many years, you feel like you do. From what I could tell, he was a fairly private man, and I cherished the opportunity to watch him perform at the highest level (the guy has been pretty universally acclaimed as one of the nicest guys in the business – he was not Tony Soprano, even if he ‘was’ Tony Soprano), as well as the few interviews I got to watch him give. A pioneer, and a master.
However, much closer to home – whilst Americans were reacting to Gandolfini’s death Wednesday night – a friend of mine was killed in an auto accident.
He was killed by a guy who was driving with a suspended license. The guy was texting; he veered off the road, over-corrected, and crossed the center line, killing my friend and his wife.
This man was a friend of mine – I’ve played WoW with him, raided with him in Cataclysm, and had some very nice conversations with him. The irresponsible, suspended driver orphaned this man’s children, took away a son and daughter from their parents, and deprived this man’s friends and family from the pleasure and privilege of knowing them and sharing times with them from this point on.
I found out about his death on Thursday night. It was shocking news, and I didn’t know how to handle it. I wanted to do something, but what do you do? It was such a sad thing…
I was able to talk with his daughter that night in-game. She told me that he had always considered me a good friend (even if we ‘only’ knew each other from the game), and I told her I was honored by that, and by the fact that she would take the time to come online within 24 hours to share that with me. His poor children are going through loss that I can’t even begin to imagine right now, and I’ve been feeling helpless about it.
But this isn’t about me and my feelings. I just told her that if she ever needed to talk, I would be there. That’s the best way I can think of to honor his memory and friendship.
It’s beyond unfortunate that someone died because of an extremely poor series of decisions by the driver. And so I say this: driving isn’t a joke, and texting while driving can be deadly. There are public service commercials on TV, and there are laws in many states, because this is a huge problem right now. And if the commercials don’t drive that home, having someone you know become a victim of this certainly does. I can attest to this now.
Please, drive safely and responsibly. And text responsibly. It only takes a tiny lapse of concentration for something deadly to happen. And that kind of thing is final. It’s irrevocable. It can never be taken back. It can never be ‘done over.’
Thanks for reading this post.