Thursday, October 07, 2010

Gobsmacked by the death of a colleague

Young people see themselves as immortal -- which is, oddly enough, why they do so many reckless things and sometimes die in the process. There's a reason why we send young men off to fight wars: They don't really know (until they get there, at least) that they might actually get killed.

As we get older we find out that we are mortal after all.

I had a call yesterday morning from one of my ex-partners. He called to tell me that someone we'd both worked with at the old firm had just dropped dead.

The guy who died was just a year ahead of me in school. When he passed the bar, I replaced him as the law clerk. When he left the firm (in an argument over his partnership agreement) I tried to leave with him. He wouldn't take me. I didn't leave for several years thereafter.

This guy who died set up his own firm and had done fairly well. Unlike me, he actually grew his firm to the point where he had minions -- associates and staff. After I went out on my own, he tried on more than one occasion to throw a little business my way. I called him a couple of times with questions in his specialty (worker's comp). We'd run into each other on the street and chat amiably. We exchanged Christmas cards. We weren't close friends, but we were friendly.

And then, yesterday, after breakfast with his wife, he went back upstairs to get something from his room that he'd forgotten. He never came back downstairs. He was gone -- just like that.

I was in a fog yesterday after that call. I called another colleague that my ex-partner would probably not have called. I told him I was doing "Irish duty." "Who died?" he said immediately. (It's not for nothing that the Obituaries are called the "Irish Sporting Pages.")

After court this morning, I checked to see if the obituary was yet on line. It is. So I wasn't "punk'd." I'd held out a sliver of hope that it might be just a stupid, cruel prank.

I've long understood that "kids my age" might get a wasting disease and die. I know too many who did. I came too close to that one myself. But "kids my age" aren't supposed to just drop dead. Especially ones that I know. And that I remember best from when we were both a lot younger.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

That sort of thing will always be a shock.

Empress Bee (of the High Sea) said...

wail until you get to be my age, they are dropping like flies. i hate it too. i am very sorry for you and your friend's family curmy.

smiles, bee

sari said...

I'm sorry.