I learned via FB the valedictorian of my high school class has died. Nobody knows ‘how’ or ‘why’ he died; the obituary is rather sparse, limited to a discrete short paragraph without detail. K passed away on his birthday and he is survived by his parents. He was 54. My age.

The lack of the listed cause of death (“after a long battle with cancer”, for example) and  he died on his birthday make me wonder. These seem to suggest the possibility of a suicide.  There was also no mention of wife or children or partner; it sounded lonely.  He taught German and he worked sometimes as an accountant.  Not to disparage teaching or accounting, but this man was a genius who always got straight As without effort. It seems an ignominious life. In contrast, I did ‘OK’ in high school and I certainly wasn’t the brightest. Yet, I have ‘done well” as it were.  It touches on the Life is not Fair feelings I get when I hear of someone’s premature death.

I haven’t seen K since a high school reunion in 1990 so I didn’t feel great loss or sorrow but I wondered about the capriciousness of Life. On paper K should have become another Bill Gates or some great university scholar. I don’t know what happened to him. Perhaps he was quite happy and content in. I hope this was so.

Another man’s death – particularly at the age of your own – conjures up introverted reflections on death, life, and such. I too could drop at any minute. What do I want now?  Is something missing? Is Life passing by?  How much of Life is in my hands to master and make my own versus how much of it is beyond my efforts to create it in an image I covet?  And – what about Meaning?

I feel sad if K’s life had been a disappointment for him. Dying at 54yo certainly sounds sad to me. It prompts me to keep to the gym and be grateful for what I have and for goodness sake keep mortality in mind to make my every day count.