Bluest of Blue Skies

Someone I knew died in a skydiving accident over the weekend.

I won't pretend like Cliff and I were good friends, because we weren't. But I knew him when Jason was working at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, Fla. I visited for a few weeks and chatted with Cliff at the bar, every night after the sunset swoop load.

Here's what I do know about the guy:

* A conversation with Cliff was like a philosophy class, law class and debate class, all rolled into one.

* He mooched beers off me like crazy.

* Whenever I told a story that involved a woman, he would say, "Is she hot?" Even if the story was about my mother. Heck, especially if the story was about my mother.
For any other stories, he'd do the ol' "Was it bigger than a breadbox?"

* He was snarky and fun, and I'm sad that he's gone. The world needs smartasses like him -- he was a smart smartass.

Now I wish I had asked him what his favorite song was. I wish I had known more about him. I wish I had seared more memories of him into my mind. I wish I had kept in touch.

He'd probably roll his eyes to see that people were getting so warm and fuzzy about him. No, actually, he'd just mock me, using some long and obscure word I've never heard of.

Because this was a collision that involved another skydiver, it's bringing back a lot of memories about Jason's incident.

I'm still trying to make sense of it all, all of these accidents -- how something that brings so much joy and vitality and life to a person can also bring pain and grief. I don't know if it's better that someone should die while doing something they love, or if that's even more unjust.

I've been thinking about death a lot lately. I think that's common during the winter, a season of departure, and the new year, with so many endings that preface a renewal.

I was also covering the death of Gerald Ford and spent a lot of time thinking about the deceased and those who mourn and grieve.

I haven't come up with any answers -- I think I'm trying to intellectualize something we don't have the capacity to understand. I don't know if it's better to have someone depart quickly and dynamically, without ever saying goodbye, or to have them linger and fall away slowly. I don't know if it's comforting or disturbing to know that death is the great equalizer, that we all go, no matter our status or position. I don't know why it all happens when it happens.

All I know to be certain is that death is a side effect of life. And Cliff fucking lived.

I'm praying for the friends and family of Cliff, as well as the friends and family of the other man involved in the accident. If they are shown even a fraction of the solidarity and kindness that we received, they will be overwhelmed.

Peace and love.

"But don’t don’t lose hope no no no no
No no no don’t feel sad ’cause it’s a violent world
But there’s still beauty
I’ll take care of you if you take care of me."
-- Of Montreal, "The Repudiated Immortals"
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By Blogger Jaime, at 10:23 PM  

What a perfect piece about someone that changed so much in my life and was such a wonderful friend for the time I was able to have him. Thank you Maggie... for partly putting into words the love and awe that I want to give him.

And you are right... Cliff fucking lived...

I love you and miss you so much.    

By Blogger Jags, at 10:33 PM  

Oh yeah... he was especially fond of "Move Bitch" by Ludacris...    

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