Karl died last night.

Now he’s dead. Karl is dead. Why is it that saying it that way sounds so bad? Maybe it’s ’cause when we say “Somebody died”, it’s like saying “Somebody ate beans”, or “Somebody wrote a letter”; it may be past tense, but it feels current, as if the person who has done these things is still around.
When we say, “Somebody is dead”, it’s a more solid statement like, “Somebody is in Greece”, or “Somebody is older than me.”
Is it just semantics? Karl is dead. This morning Scott numbly told me, “Karl passed away last night.”. To my ear it seems open-ended: where did Karl pass away to? What is he gonna do next?
I often wonder about my relationship with death. I hear these things, and in the silent moment afterwards, where people may be assuming I’m taking a moment to reflectively grieve, I’m actually wondering what reaction to show, what emotional demonstration (or appropriate lack thereof) is most called for.
Philosophicaly, I feel that death is part of life; we are each born, we live, and then we die. We all shit, we all die, and nobody much cares to discuss either. I’m fairly certain Karl himself would have had a good chuckle at all this…
Karl had a lousy death, at the end of a lousy loosing battle with cancer. Then again, he also had a rip-roarin’ life. It’s the latter I’ll remember him most for. He was a sailor, a husband, a father, a decent drunk; an all-around swell guy who looked out for his neighbors and more oft than not gave more than he received.
The rest of the crew took the day off to grieve. I said “Fuckit”, and got back to work on my boat. I think Karl would have approved.


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