Here's a random walking story from yesterday. I have a mandatory 2-week holiday while the university is shut down. So, I decide to take the bus to the hippie grocery store next to a consignment store I haven't yet visited, as a fun outing. I get up there in good order, enjoy my leisurely shopping and head to the bus stop. My official bus tracker app says no bus coming for the next 15 minutes. So I figure I must have just missed the one I was hoping to catch. The next one is due in an hour. Google agrees, next bus in an hour. What to do? I don't have a heavy bag, it's cold, but sunny and it's about an hour walk home. Ok, I'll walk. The bus I thought I missed passes me in two blocks (of course!). Ok, now I'm really committed to walking.
The neighborhood is beautiful, I'm in the Museum District. The gorgeous old houses are decorated for the holidays, the sun is shining and I'm having a nice walk. I am able to help out a woman who needs a plastic bag for her dog waste, and we chat for awhile. I get to the big park by the university and there are two people walking in the park, me and another man. Our paths are converging. I see that it is my friend K from Sierra Club. He's walking to the laundromat. We stop and have a nice chat and make arrangements to carpool to the next Sierra Club training session in Ashland.
At this point, I'm wondering why I even thought about taking the bus. I give the bus fare in my pocket to the next homeless person I see. I don't normally do this, as I prefer to support the organizations that help the homeless, but this is some kind of karma trip.
One of the subjects K and I touched on in our chat in the park was suicide. I can’t remember how he brought it up (I’m trying to work on my listening skills, but that’s a ongoing challenge). I mentioned that I think it is a horrible thing to do to one’s family and friends. We spoke of religion, etc. But I got to thinking later why my first reaction to suicide is the ones left behind. It comes from high school.
I was on the bus going home, in the front seat, as usual. My seat mate that afternoon was my neighbor J, another kinda nerdy kid. We were acquaintances but not super good friends. I don't think we had been speaking much during the trip. I was knitting, again, as usual. As we approached our stop, he said something about not being able to sleep lately. Every night he was still trying to get to sleep when the birds started singing. I can’t remember what I said. We got off the bus and parted ways.
He was dead before dinner. No one knows if he meant to die, but I heard he hit his head on a rock in the creek. The creek wasn’t very deep. What if I had said instead, “Hey J, would you like to talk? We can walk for awhile together.”?
What if? I think I've been trying to walk that off ever since.