Home > Life > It doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense.

I didn’t expect to get so upset. I think that’s because I didn’t expect it to happen. On Monday, I glanced at Facebook, and my newsfeed was filled with photos of my former co-worker. I knew Mike was coping with cancer. I knew he was really sick because he was very public about what he was going through. But I assumed he wouldn’t die. I assumed he would make it and live a gorgeous life well into his 80s. Mike was younger than I am. Mike was a gift to his community. It wouldn’t make sense for him to die now.

But Mike did die. I can’t stop thinking about him and I don’t know why. I worked with Mike for six months in 2010. I met him during a short Americorps term of service working for an out-of-school time program in North Philly. I was co-leader with Mike’s girlfriend, Daffodale, for a group of middle schoolers. After my six months was up, I left the program and my interactions with Mike and Daffodale were limited to Facebook and the occasional run-in on the street. That was all. So why do I keep crying over this kid I barely knew?

A part of me thinks that Mike’s death is just terrifying to me. A couple of people in my tiny universe are coping with cancer right now, and I have to believe that they will be fine. I don’t know what else to do. I believed Mike would be fine, and now he’s gone. So I know a part of me is scared of losing anyone close in my world. I don’t want to do that again.

I know, though, that I have a fragile spot for young men who go too soon. I’ve been thinking about my brother and how we’ve been cheated that he’s not here. And then I look at someone like Mike and it just makes me feel so helpless and angry. Mike was an actor, a writer, a poet, a musician, an educator, and an advocate. I think that’s the short list. When I met Mike and Daffodale, they were among the first young people I’d met in Philadelphia that were giving themselves to their community. Along with another co-worker, Brandi, I had these shining examples of passionate, intelligent, creative young people who worked hard and asked for nothing in return for their service. I met them as I was applying to MSW programs, and they made me believe that change is possible on the individual level.

So with Mike dying, this loss seems massive. One one level there is his profound absence in the lives of Daffodale, and all of Mike’s family and close friends.Then on another level, there is his absence in the arts community, in youth education, in Philadelphia. It’s a macrocosmic loss. I know we can hold on to his legacy and we can  honor him with our actions. However, I think maybe it’s better if he were just here. It doesn’t make sense.

I don’ t have an enlightened view of death. I think my view pretty childish and self-centered most of the time. Maybe I need to practice more acceptance. With acceptance, it doesn’t matter if it makes sense.

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