Life is short isn’t it?
I heard a song the other day that said: “Life is a game you can’t win so enjoy the ride.” I’m sure that there are about a hundred variations of that in song or poems or drunken reflections, but it’s all true.
I figure I’ve delivered a couple of dozen death messages in my career—mostly in the early days when I worked the road.
The first time was unbelievably hard. All I can remember is taking advice from “The Godfather” movie, choosing to deliver the bad news quickly. It was something that I always remembered. They know you’re there for bad news because it’s all over your face. There is no sense asking them to sit or otherwise prolong what you need to say. It’s once you say it that you need to take time with them.
People react differently. Some get angry, some just don’t believe a word of it and some just stare at you.
I worked a traffic fatality one night. I drove to the woman’s apartment and spoke with her fiancé. I sat him down and told him she had been killed in a car accident. The man got up and looked around and then started cussing. I couldn’t figure that one out. He was mad but I couldn’t figure out what he was mad at. He wasn’t mad like mad at the world for his fiancé dying but rather “I’m inconvenienced mad.”
Turns out he was a semi-awful musician and she worked at a small record label and he was more upset that he was losing his record contact than losing a fiancé. Strange dude. I left there feeling sorry for her that she spent her last days with this clown. I never felt sorry for him.
Death is a strange thing. It is the most sobering thing you can think of. It’s the final act in your life.
Most police officers, firefighters and EMS people see it from an impersonal view. We’re only involved until that time is over and then we’re gone. In this business, it’s business. Investigations call for things to be done quickly. There’s an order to a death investigation and there’s little time to reflect on the victim. Being professional means you don’t have personal involvement.
Back to life. They say “Life is short. Be happy.”
You hear that all the time but the day-to-day gets you back to the mindset that has you putting out fires in your professional and personal life. “Life is short” is something you forget easily. The next thing you know it’s 10 years later.
You would think that people in law enforcement or public safety would have a healthy reminder each day that life is short. Not really. We do like everyone else and forget it—until we get the wakeup call that comes every so often. We all get that call.
Today I was surfing around Facebook and came across my cigar guy’s Facebook page. I have a guy for certain things. I have a car guy, boat guy and cigar guy. I looked it over and then read a sentence on the top of the page. The sentence was written by a friend of his. Kevin, my cigar guy, had died.
He was 40 years old. Forty is the age when you should start enjoying things that you were too immature to appreciate at an earlier age.
I would make it a point to stop in and talk with him for a while, buy some cigars, tell him goodbye, and in a few days later I would again stop in just to catch up. Now he’s gone.
Just like that. Once again it’s a reminder that people are here and then they’re gone too soon—and it makes you sad.
Life is short folks. Enjoy it now.