Thoughts by Richard Bleil
Megan was a resident adviser at the woman’s dorm at the University of Cincinnati. The dorm itself was one of the older buildings. It was Gothic in design and simply charming, but she was more so. She was a couple of years ahead of me, and being that I was just starting, two years chronologically was a significant difference in emotion and maturity. She was so cool, smart, beautiful, and just really had her life together. I loved her so much, but even though she never took me seriously, at least not as a man, but she was always very nice to me.
Some four or five years later, I was working in Cincinnati at a private company as an analytical chemist. Although I don’t remember the circumstances, but I found myself needing to go to campus. Walking past the very dorm where she worked, a classmate and, although I wasn’t aware of it a mutual friend, was walking towards me in quite a rush. She seemed upset, so I asked her if she was okay. She told me that Megan was dead.
Apparently, she had gone on a ski trip and had broken her leg. Although her leg healed, it apparently had created a blood clot that nobody had known about, a clot that made it to her heart and ended her life. In just a moment, she was gone.
Life is so fragile. Megan brought so much to this world, had so much potential, so much to give, and in an instant, it was gone. I wish I had not met this friend on campus, because then Megan would still be alive in my heart. It might only be one of ignorance, but in my world, she would still be alive, somewhere.
I wonder how many friends I’ve lost over the years without ever knowing it. It’s human nature to move. Not necessarily location (although that happens regularly), but professionally, emotionally, educationally, we reach an endpoint and move on. We keep some friends but lose so many others simply disappear. Some of the people meant little to us and had barely perceptible impact on our lives, but others were precious to us, significant in helping us in our development, dear to our hearts, but we lose them anyway. Their time and circumstance pass, and although it hurts, we also know that the time is over. Megan was one of these people, but there have been many. And to many, I may have been one myself.
Was I precious to Megan, or one of the countless awkward mass of men who must have been infatuated with her? And if I was not precious to her, who might have thought I was precious at some point who have moved on, who rarely or never think of me anymore, or who wouldn’t even remember me if I asked them if they wanted fries with that? How would they respond if they knew that I had been so close to death myself?
A number of years ago, a friend of mine was working for a water treatment company. Basically, it was just her and the founder. Sadly, he, like me, had a heart attack. Unlike mine, long, slow, painful and clearly survivable, his was sudden. Apparently, he had just gotten home from a run, took a quick call, and on hanging up he took off one sock. He died in the chair, so suddenly, that he never managed to get to the second. In just a moment, he, too, was gone.
I guess that’s all we ever really have, just a moment. One moment means the difference between alive and dead, between being able to pursue dreams, and our dreams dying with us. The time between our last heartbeat, and the one that was supposed to follow. In roughly half a second, we are simply no more.
I wonder how much time I’ve wasted, how much time I’m still wasting even today. As I type this, I’m watching a movie that is truly a waste of time. It’s one hour and fifteen minutes, or 9,000 heartbeats. That’s 9,000 potentially last heartbeats of my life. Have I accomplished anything worthwhile in my life? Have I made a contribution to the future that is significant enough to warrant the heartbeats that tick away like a metronome, slowly winding down until it just stops? There is nothing I can do about my past, but what should I do with those that remain? I will never know how many remain, nor will we ever know how to best use them. I feel like I’m wasting them now. The tragedy is that I don’t know how to turn it around, either. But I can tell you that it’s at the forefront of my mind.