Monday, April 18, 2005

Tragedy

I got an email today saying that one of the MBA students at my university was in a serious accident this weekend while participating in an event to raise money for charity at a different university (a bunch of universities are competing against each other to raise money for a charity). We had very few details given to us in the email, but it seemed like the student (whom I was a TA for last fall) was in serious condition. Another email later from a classmate suggested that he was in a coma.

My husband actually attends this university, and got an email from his school about it that had a little more information in it-- turns out that it was a "possible drowning" during a water polo match. Yikes. Our guess is that there was a fight during the water polo match and it went on for too long. If this student doesn't make it, we're guessing that manslaughter charges may be filed and this is maybe why the Dean didn't mention what happened in his email. This is all strictly conjecture, though.

I hope he does make it, with his brain intact. And I really wish that I remembered him better. I remembered his face when I looked him up on our system, but can't remember any specifics.

It all makes me very sad for his friends and family. I have given much thought to what kind of death would be the least painful for family and friends. I don't really have a good answer. They all suck. My best friend and his girlfriend were killed in a car accident a little over 3.5 years ago. In a way, I thought this was probably the best possible way to go when it came to not adding more pain on top of pain. The reasons for this are as follows:

  1. It was very sudden, so I know my friend didn't suffer. He died on the way to the hospital in the ambulance, so there was some uncertainty about this for a while, but when my dad went with his parents to get all his stuff, his mom (a registered nurse) looked at the coroner's report, which stated that his spinal cord had been severed. So he wasn't feeling ANYTHING. It also made me feel better in that there was just no way he was coming back from that. There couldn't be any questioning of the medical team, there were no "what if they had done x, y, or z?"
  2. The accident was 100% not my friend's fault. He was driving, and the first question I asked my dad when my parents called me at work to tell me was "Was he drinking?" My friend had driven drunk once before, during our freshman year. He fessed up to me, and I gave him a good scolding. In the five or so years following that, he never did it again, to my knowledge. But still-- when I heard that he had been killed in a car accident, this was my first thought. I feel a little guilty about this, but I did have reason to ask... It turns out that the driver of the other car was out on parole for cocaine possession. He was probably high. We'll never know b/c he fled the scene, but it's a good guess, given how fast he was driving (45 mph) on tiny New Orleans backstreets, replete with potholes and street parked cars. I think that dealing with this would have been much, much harder if I thought it was his fault. One of his friends from college, whom I think had a crush on him, was just torturing herself with what he could have done differently to avoid being in that accident. Honestly, there was nothing, except to not be in that wrong place at that wrong time.
  3. It was hard for me to be angry at the other driver, because even though he was probably high, he ran the stop sign at that intersection, which is something that I did accidentally once, when I was totally sober. It was a stop sign that I had forgotten was there, and I blew right threw it. I just got damn, DAMN lucky that there wasn't anyone else around... although if there had been, I might have been more careful. There but for the grace of God (and perhaps, but not certainly, cocaine) go I. (I will say that I was shockingly happy when the driver pled guilty and got 9 years in jail. I wasn't expecting to be that happy, but I was. If he got 2 years, I would have been happy.)
  4. I had had a really nice long chat with him the night before the accident. Kind of spooky, in my opinion. So I also felt like there weren't any loose ends that I wished I had tied up, or any regrets on my part for anything, which I think was not a coincidence. I really believe it wasn't. I talked to him maybe once every couple of months. I almost got off the phone with him so I could watch a West Wing rerun. I ended up putting a tape in the VCR and staying on the phone. I've never been so glad of any action I've done in my life. I cannot imagine the regret I would have had if I had cut our conversation short to watch a stupid TV show. (okay, West Wing was a really good TV show at that time, but still. Relationships before TV, right?)
So, in a nutshell, no suffering, no fault, no regret, and hard to blame the other guy. That pretty much cleared the way for me to only have to deal with the pain of losing my friend. Which was pretty horrendous ipso facto, and led to bad decisions on my part and emotional ramifications from which I am still recovering. Maybe I'll give more details later, but not at this time.

All in all, I think the best, best way to go is when you're old and in your sleep, having led a full life with lots of loved ones. My great uncle went like this- brain anurysm at age 86 while driving his Mercedes. But at a young age, you pretty much only have the choice of horrible illness or tragic accident or some kind of willful death like murder or suicide (I did know someone who died at age 21 of a brain anurysm as well, but that's rare for young deaths).

It seems to me that the main benefit of a horrible, prolonged illness is the ability to get used to the idea of death (if one can ever really get used to it), and also feeling that death is a release from suffering. Mostly, I think this is a crock of shit. It reminds me of when people said to me, after my parked car was almost totaled by an epileptic with a suspended driver's license, "You were lucky that you weren't in the car." If I was really lucky, then my car wouldn't have been hit in the first place. Long, awful illnesses are not a blessing, people.

I am not sure which would be worse, though- murder, suicide, or an accident in which your loved one was clearly at fault. Murder is really horrible because it's the premeditated act of a sicko. You can't blame it on chance or say, "well, when it's your time to go..." These things aren't really a comfort, but they do take away added pain and suffering at a time when your plate is full of that and you'd rather not have another helping, thank you very much. Suicide and causing the accident are bad because then you blame your loved one for his/her own death and your unhappiness. I remember thinking that would be really hard to take.

I think this is kind of sick that I think about these things. I've been a lot more morbid, and more sensitive to death and sadness in the last 3.5 years. Losing someone you love really changes you, and not for the better. I used to believe that everything happens for a reason, but I don't think that's true anymore. I can only thing of one, ONE tiny miniscule possibility for any good that came out of this situation, and that's the fact that I discovered that my husband (who was then my boyfriend) could deal with difficult situations, which was something that I had been concerned about when we were dating, charmed life that he led and all. If God let this happen for a reason, then we all know that God is not an economist, because there had to be a more efficient way for me to find that out.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey, congrats on the new blog. Good stuff.

About death: I would like to say there is some order to these things, but I don't think there is. People die, and I'm not sure there is a reason for that.

When my brother committed suicide, I was just sad about his whole life. It was a shock, but after a bit of time, it's not like it was that surprising.

With my dad dying a little while back, I didn't have any hang ups. He was pretty sick and he was more mean than tragic, like my brother.

Do you have dreams about this stuff? I have had more than a couple of dreams where I was sitting in a room with either the dad or the brother, and I had to remind them that "you're dead." It was peaceful with my brother. It was not peaceful with my father.

With love,
Chris

feminaformosa said...

I think I've had one dream, maybe? Not many. I kind of wished that I had more, but not really.

Anonymous said...

I'm neutral on the dreams. They were never that scary ... well, one was pretty scary ... but I just want the pair to be at peace. So if they have to come in a dream to hear me remind them, then so be it. It has been a while since I saw either, so maybe that's the end.

Chris