Two things happened yesterday.
One, I got a phone call about a girl I knew from school (who was a friend of my little brother) notifying me she'd bee killed in an accident while holidaying in Zambia. The second, my Lucy dog ate a WHOLE box of ratsack, and I ended up taking her to the 23 hour emergency hospital in Homebush to have her stomach pumped. Big thanks to the Animal Referral Hospital, because I would have been screwed without them. I had nothing to induce vomiting myself, and she had eaten a whole packet. She would have been in a lot of trouble.
So, about first. When someone dies, it feels so surreal. Like you imagined it or dreamed it. I had a dream once my friend's hubby died and it took me a good couple of hours to shake off the feeling. But he didn't and everything was fine. You forget that we die. Accidents happen or the body gives out. Then you're reminded one afternoon, sitting at your computer.
I bet, if you lined up all the kids you knew in high school and you were asked to pick out who you'd think would not make it to old age, you'd be completely wrong. It's almost never the ones you think it would be. You'll almost never find yourself answering, "well, we saw that coming, didn't we?"
I have a cousin who has been taking drugs for many years. Admittedly, I haven't heard from him for almost 3 years now but the future didn't look promising. He'd lie, cheat and steal and was graduating to more and more serious stuff. Sure as shit, that kid will be walking around in 10, 20 years time. But this girl, Sarah. 22 years old. Cheerful. Fun. Friendly. Kind. Adventurous. She's no more.
I guess she died doing what she loved - she was on an Adventure. Hiking around Africa.
A lot of the FB messages are claiming God took her, and that she died too soon. I have this theory about the whole, "too soon" thing. The way I think about it, her life wasn't cut short. She was always only going to live for 22 years. But in that 22 years, she lived a lifetime. Maybe, everything she needed to do, she'd done. She'd touched the right people, saw what she needed to see, made differences only she could make. Some people need 73 years to do it. She only needed 22.
I got this theory from a friend, when someone he knew died of an asthma attack at 13. Everyone raved how he was such a good kid, so generous and kind. How his life was cut short. And my friend commented, to know him he seemed like the person who'd already lived a lifetime, and he only needed 13 years to accomplish it. It makes the whole dying thing a lot easier to deal with (for me personally). I hate the thought that she was punished and taken away, those around her were punished and now can never see her again. I guess it's unfair that she died so young. But it's much nicer to focus on when she was alive.
But I have never lost a sibling, or a best friend or a daughter or a parent. So I can't really say what her dying means to them. I lost a friend when I was 13, but it was by no means a close companion. So it may be different when it happens to me. To be honest though, even though I have come to terms with the death of people, animals - especially the ones I care for - are a different story.
My mum has a photo from when she was a kid, at an Easter Parade. In the photo with her is a boy her age. She remembers exactly who he was, and she'll point him out followed by, "He died", like he wasn't supposed to, and still a little surprised about it.
I think the saddest part is, a lot of people will hear the story and sigh, comment how awful it is and hug their children. But then they forget. They'll forget that some things happen completely randomly. I can probably guarantee though with Sarah's passing someone close to her will change their life. They'll be more adventurous, or they'll change a bad habit or they'll do something they never thought was possible, and they'll change a small corner of the world. And that will be her legacy.