two glimpses of life--and death

When we came home from our trip, Isaac made the rounds to feed his pets. I checked on the cat, and decided on our next trip we will HAVE to have someone come feed her. I think she is still trying to catch up from the week she was lost. Isaac's last stop was the gerbils and he quickly came back down to tell me that Snow was dead. These gerbils live in his room, inside a glass cage. They are given food and water everyday, and pine cones to chew on when there are spare ones about. The cage could've been cleaned more often, but otherwise they lived well together. I had given them lots of food and water before we left, so I knew that had been taken care of. According to google, they typically live 2-5 years, so maybe it was just old age. I scooped it up with a baggie, checked it out, then put it in the trash. We are watching the other one a bit more carefully now. This death was a surprise, but, well, it was a gerbil.

Snow and Storm when we first got them in October 2009 from Isaac's school.

On Tuesday I got another surprise. Over the past few months, I have made many new friends. I say friends but really, I have not walked with them much on their journey and definitely have not talked with most of them beyond the basic conversations I try to have with people I meet. I mostly do my best to remember names. One of the guys I met this summer at Friendship Lunch was Mike--an easy name for me to remember since that's my dad's name too. He didn't talk much, seemed a bit shy, struggled with mental illness, but always looked me in the eye and always said hi to me. For the two years, Mike slept on a bench outside Food and Shelter for Friends. That was his home. That was his family. And while we were out of town this weekend, Mike got hit by a train. I sat at that railroad crossing yesterday afternoon, waiting for yet another train to pass, and cried.

I have learned much more about him in the past couple of days. I barely knew him but still grieve at his death. Thirty-eight is too young and a train is just too wrong. I grieve at the tragedies he lived through and that I got to know him best through his memorial service. That too is just wrong.