What The…? Hey Death, That Was My Friend

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I’m angry and confused. Death has never hit this close to home with me before. Anders was one of my best friends, a frequent guest at my table. I knew him for over 20 years. And now he’s dead at 45, apparently of a heart attack. I’m stunned and full of disbelief.

By profession an engineer and a programmer, Anders was also a prodigious traveller, a perennial student, an avid reader and a music lover. “Heart attack at 45″ conjures the image of some hard-partying coke fiend. But Anders lead a quiet, even prim, bachelor’s life and liked to play badminton.

I knew this guy from my mid teens on! We met through late-80s on-line forums and the Tolkien Society, we had a band during my undergrad years, we used to meet and jam on our guitars and perform at my parties, and in recent years he was one of the most dependable names on my list for gaming night. How can he just be gone without warning?

A buddy of ours once likened Anders to a public-school educated administrator in the British colonies. Tall, slim, blond and blue-eyed, always neat and clean-shaven, balding early, a little reserved, not a loud guy. His demeanour was boyish and asexual, cozy and down-to-earth; like tea and toast and your favourite slippers.

He had this funny combination of naïveté and much knowledge gathered by study and travels. Just recently, at a Dungen gig, he said with this priceless absence of irony, “You know, I’m starting to think that I’m not a Christian after all”. Well, duh, Anders – is there a single line of one or the more common Creeds that you’ve ever believed in? I think he’d never actually asked himself the question before.

And now he’s been taken from us by some faceless mindless happenstance of cardiovascular plumbing – from his parents and sibs and his sister’s kids, and from his many friends. Just gone, gone away to nowhere, one-way ticket, no goodbyes. I can’t get my head around it. I miss him.

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Comments

  1. #1 kai
    November 27, 2010

    We’d better make the most of available time. Want to bring the family over for dinner next weekend?

  2. #2 Stewart
    November 27, 2010

    My sympathies offered mate. It’s always sad and a huge shock when someone close dies,and when they die suddenly without warning it’s got to be the worst.
    The worst part for us left here is that it brings the fears of our own mortality right to the fore,but to be truthfulit shouldn’t be this way!
    Any of us can die ANY second of ANY day,yet we all go through life assuming that if we moderate our drinking,smoking and other bad habits..then we’ll all live into our 60′s and beyond.We subconsciously forget about the million and 1 ways we can die,but that’s a good thing in my mind or we’d all be locked in the nuthouse by age 20!!
    I had a minor heart attack last year age 48..but then i’m a smoker and i guess it wasn’t such a big shock.There’s a video on youtube (3 actually) of a young soccer player.You see him having a joke with the referee and smiling,he turns around…crouches down…and drops dead!
    It’s a shocking visual of how death can strike at anytime,at any age.

    Anders could have contracted cancer aged 6,or been hit by a bus aged 14.Luckily he wasn’t,and he had 45 years to grace his friends and colleagues lives with his presence. It’s always a kind of weak expression in my mind,but at days end it’s all we can do..”remember the good times”.

    Sorry again for your loss.

  3. #3 Martin R
    November 27, 2010

    Thanks Kai, thanks Stu!

  4. #4 Mel
    November 27, 2010

    I wish I was as eloquent as Stewart, but I’m not, so I’m just going to offer my condolences. I’m sorry for your loss, Martin. Hang in there.

  5. #5 Deborah
    November 27, 2010

    I think the suddenness of a death like this has a special kind of impact. Those left behind feel not only bereft and bewildered, but also somewhat guilty because they were unable to be by their friend’s side or to say goodbye. I’ve lost some close friends in difficult ways. It’s tempting to tell those stories, but now is not the time. I just know that it feels meaningless and stupid at the moment. However, you have wonderful memories of this good fellow. You will always miss him, and those memories are a real treasure. Here is someone who laughed, created, and gave joy to others. When the initial shock has passed, I hope you’ll find that it’s really not meaningless and stupid — because your friend’s life counts for so much more than his death. It’s obvious that he made his corner of the world a better place for being in it, and that is 45 years very well spent. I’m so sorry for your loss, Martin. Do take care.

  6. #6 Amber
    November 28, 2010

    Exceedingly well written, Martin! You are good at really seeing your friends.

  7. #7 Marcus
    November 28, 2010

    What’s so incredibly strange in today’s society is that we live as if that day will never come, but it does.

    I am 41. One childhood friend is gone in colon cancer. He didn’t make 40. Another friend jumped off a bridge or was killed in a night mugging.

    Many friends of mine have yet to create a family. Some of them might well be in their 50s, but it seems as if they want to live an eternal life of youth and adolescence.

    There are worse deaths however, for many people die leaving unspoken words behind. Anders seems to have been easy to like, and I am certain that he felt himself appreciated. In that way this might be an easy death to bear. Compare to other situations where you might think of words you had wanted to say, or things to do.

    I think, that when someone close dies, then the best thing to do is to make them proud. I would guess few persons want others to be unhappy just because they die :) So, what one can do, is to create something extra in life, in memory of, and thus to make life better for us all.

    I am certain that, if there is an afterlife, then persons, that have lived such a life that they are remembered, will be extremely happy with that.

    It also helps a third part :)

  8. #8 Martin R
    November 28, 2010

    It does brighten my thoughts to know that any pain and fear before darkness fell must have been extremely brief. I don’t pity Anders, but those left behind. And I’m dissatisfied with a world where such things still happen.

  9. #9 Marcus
    November 28, 2010

    Mmm, I wonder if we will ever reach such a society, that people always die at the right time?

    What’s so incredibly strange when it comes to one of my friends is that he died at the age of 32, and that possibly the reason is because of hormones or vitamins. I had known him for some 15 years.

    Now at 41, and having seen interesting cases, and looking at myself, I wonder if one can ever say anything to another person. In many cases it feels as if the walls are up. This leads me to believe that we are defined, as humans, long before we reach puberty.

    To put this in another way – there is a difference between success, and happiness. Another friend of mine hits 2.0 on the högskoleprov and studies to become a doctor, but it gives her nothing because she wants to be an actor.
    :) Another friend is a half Ashkenazi. He is intelligent enough, but I wonder if he is really satisfied with his life?

    In his youth, he could often score max points in tests, just to hear his parents tell him to go practice the piano, or the violin.

    People are going to miss him, try to tell them that the best they can do is to make him proud.

  10. #10 pelican
    November 28, 2010

    Goodbyes don’t help when it’s someone so young – or, perhaps more honestly – someone *our* age – because it reminds us how very much we are mere mayflies in the grand scheme of things.

    I just lost my first long-term friend my age to illness- I’ve lost others to misadventure- and what did help was getting together with other people who had known him over twenty years and remembering him. We did this, to the degree he was able, while he was still alive, and then again after he died. We’ll do it again, as needed.

    Life is so short. There never will be enough time. But, we can make the time count. I am 41. And, I am SO not ready to be done.

    I’m very sorry for the loss of your friend. Sending best wishes your way, for you and all of his family and friends.

  11. #11 Ld Elon
    November 28, 2010

    Its the spirit that lets you free, death can be defeated with the absolute love of being, trust me, i accomplished it.
    Thirdly, his work, was probably done, now to the next.

  12. #12 Milka
    November 28, 2010

    Martin, I so love this post, how accurately and eloquently you describe our dear friend, whom I will also miss so very much, probably even more than I am able to comprehend at this moment. I think that Anders was the most decent – in the most powerful sense of the word – person I’ve ever known.

  13. #13 Jonathan Jarrett
    November 28, 2010

    Oh, how awful. It sounds as if Anders ought to have died while fairly happy with things, at least, but of course everyone else remains behind. My condolences and sympathies, Martin and Anders’s other friends.

  14. #14 Gingerspark
    November 29, 2010

    I am sorry for your loss, and for the loss of another good person.

  15. #15 cicely
    November 29, 2010

    *hug*