Death

1. The first dead person I ever knew was a man I worked with named Larry. He was in his mid-50’s, mustached, and bald, with a demeanor that suggested aloofness.  His death came as a result of a condition he had developed through several motorcycle crashes.  We read meters together, but I did not know him very well.  It was still a shock – nobody I ever known had died before, forcing me to for once consider finality in actual, tangible terms; here is a man I would quite simply never see again.

This just being a summer job, I never really thought about him much afterwards.  Life goes on, and that brings more deaths to contemplate.  Still, I rather vividly remember daydreaming about him.  That one day I’d be on my route, and there would be Larry, walking down the street opposite of me.  He’d be in full motorcycle gear, walking with a confidence and agility that I never saw in him while he was alive.  He would give me a look but not say anything; here was the man we had mourned only a few weeks back, alive and well, and nobody had seen him but me.  That is where the daydream always ended.  I never knew what to say – what you do say to the man who beat death?

2. When I was 10, I made a friend who had five cats. Garfy was probably three years old then. I remained friends with the guy and for whatever reason I loved antagonizing that cat. He was large and incredibly confrontational – I’m not exactly proud of this now but I knew exactly how to rile the poor guy up. I eventually moved in with my friend who had acquired the cat. Understandably, he never really liked me, always standing his ground wherever he stood, always watching me from a distance.

Despite being overweight most of his life, Garfy lived for a long, long time. I moved out and the cat still remained; I’d stop by for a visit and I’d still see him, thinner and thinner each time. Finally, about a year ago, I ran in to retrieve some mail, and there he was, standing on the couch. He was thin and frail, with that perpetual wet fur look that old cats seem to have. He stared at me for a good twenty seconds before I sat down next to him, put him on my lap, and pet him. He never would have let me do this a few years ago. I got up and he continued to stare. Two weeks later, he died. It was as if he knew.

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