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Random Thoughts (Blog)

On death and dying

Posted on May 24, 2011 at 1:10 PM

A friend of mine was found dead in his bathroom yesterday. His name was Ken Draper. This news was shockingly unexpected and it sucks. I got the news in that most impersonal of 21st Century delivery methods, via voicemail. “Don’t know if you heard, but Ken Draper was found dead this morning.”  I guess it could have been worse; it could have been a text message. Please promise me that you'll never text message someone with news of a death. I hung up and was stunned. I’d just talked to him a couple of days before on Thursday night. I’d known him for several years and we attended the same church together. Ken worked at the Toyota dealership where we bought our RAV4 where he built and ran their e-commerce department and he hooked us up with a salesman that he knew would take care of us. He was incredibly proud of the work that he did, and we would often compare analytic notes. We both agreed that the weekend is the worst time for Web traffic.


He was relatively young, mid 60s, and always seemed to be in good health. Dana and Lauryn went roller skating last Monday (Lauryn’s verdict: “I am never going to learn to roller skate. NEVER!") and he was there, skating round and round.


For years, Ken had been planning this major cross-country trip. He was going to spend a couple of months driving across the country, taking his time, stopping to meet old friends, to visit places he’d always wanted to visit. Ken loved driving and had a modded Toyota with performance tires, suspension, exhaust, and a computer chip for better performance. He finally mostly-retired and was gearing up for this big trip and was set to leave in like a week. (It is such the, “Man, I was just 3 days away from retirement…” cliché.) He had just bought a new iPad2 to keep him company on the road and since I too had recently acquired an iPad2 (Thanks again, Ad! Awesome gift!)  we talked a lot about our new favorite toy and how cool it was and all the apps that we were discovering. He was looking forward to Netflix and Pandora keeping him company on the road.


And then yesterday I got a call from a mutual friend that said he was dead. Don’t know what happened. He didn’t show up for work and didn’t call and so Toyota had called someone to go and check on him and he was dead in his bathroom.


A few weeks ago I had mentioned that I had an extensive music library, and that I’d be happy to load him up with some new tunes for the road. He gave me a list of some things he liked and last Sunday I gave him a thumb drive filled with 2 Gigs worth of music I thought he would enjoy on his trip; lots of REM and other 80s music. On Thursday he gave me the drive back and told me how he’d had a real bear getting all of that music imported to iTunes but that he finally managed to get it all onto his iPad, had arranged some driving playlists, and was excited for his trip and to listen to the new music.


I feel happy that my last interaction with him was a positive one. And even though he’ll never get to listen to that music, I’m glad that I completed the task of getting it to him, and I know it made him happy. I think what makes me the saddest right now is knowing that Ken will never get to take that trip he had planned for and talked about for so long. I could probably go into some lengthy spiel about this is why we shouldn’t put things off, life is short, carpe diem, grab life by both hands, but...


You don’t often think about your own mortality. I know I don’t at 41 and I doubt Ken did at 60-something. I think you always feel like you’re immortal and going to live forever, right up until you realize that you aren’t. I’m going to be flying to California tomorrow and will be there through Sunday, so I’ll likely miss Ken’s funeral service. And while that makes me sad that I can’t be there to fill a seat and show that I cared and remember Ken, I know that funeral services are usual somber affairs. I’ve told Dana that IF the time comes for my service, I want it to be more of a celebration. I don’t’ want to have someone standing there in a black suit talking about how Dana and Lauryn will be strong and ashes to ashes and wages of sin and all that. I want my friends to get up and share memories of all of those great, embarrassing stories and fun times that we had. Let's call the dress business casual. I want there to be a lengthy discussion and spirited debate of favorite blog posts. I want people to remember and share something that they loved about me and will miss now that I’m gone. I want there to be music and flowing wine and laughs.


Ken, I will miss seeing your car in its usual parking space. I will miss how you always took off like you were in a race. I will miss discussing analytics. I will miss discussing Southern California. And most of all, I will miss how you were always in a good mood.

Categories: May 2011, Family, Music

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