Monday, June 21, 2010

Life is so brief

I received some incredibly sad news today and have been wrapping my mind around it ever since. I just found out my friend, J, who was DDing for a few friends Saturday night, was killed by a drunk driver on his way home (the AJC wrote an in-depth article about it here). He had just dropped off his friends and was only a couple blocks away from his apartment downtown. A little while ago, he had just accepted a new job at the state Capitol, and was engaged. It seems so unfair.

J became my friend when we were interns at the Governor's office last fall. He was a great person to turn to as we both were navigating our roles in this big new world of state politics. Over our mutual love of Chick-fil-a (which was just down the street from our offices) I spent a lot of time chatting with him about different things -- politics, philosophy, Sporcle quizzes. He told me about his dreams of working in politics or possibly doing Teach for America; I told him about my aspirations of becoming a political reporter. I told him about what it was like being a newlywed; he was planning on proposing to his girlfriend soon. He was even one of the first people who knew about my plans for a blog back when it was just a neophyte idea, and he encouraged it. He didn't think it was a vain or trivial thing.

It's a funny thing to say goodbye to someone. I haven't seen him since our last day of our internship; he continued on in the Governor's intern program as a fellow. I remember him saying to come back and visit often. It wasn't really goodbye, we said.
We never saw each other again. It makes me regret all the times we could've met up again, but never got a chance to do. We had chances, but we let them slip. I let them slip, I am very ashamed to admit.

When I heard the news about his death, I was really shocked and incredibly sad. And somehow not surprised at what he was doing when he died. He decided to be a DD for him and his friends on their night out. He was being a responsible person, trying to make sure people were safe that night. He may have saved their lives letting them out of the car when he did.

Knowing about this just makes everything seem to go into perspective. It makes everything else that's annoying in life -- crappy workdays, finicky cars, bills to pay -- seem so trivial. Having all of those things seems actually wonderful because it means being alive to experience joy, sadness and yes, annoyance.

J deserved another good 80 years, and now he won't get them.

I know I am sounding super sentimental, but really, all of this just makes me want to achieve more on my bucket list and just be a better person overall.
I guess what I'm saying is, go hug people you love. Write a long letter to a friend you haven't spoken to in awhile. Splurge on an item you've had your eye on for awhile. Go big. You are living, and breathing.

signature1 by you.


  1. A comment seems so inadequate, but just wanted to express how sorry I am. What a horrible loss :( Virtual hug coming your way.

  2. JoAnn--I don't have much to say to console in time of grief, except to share my own sadness. Probably too much information to put out there, but my uncle was killed when I was very young by a drunk driver. He was around 28 at the time, very young, and he loved bringing me crayons. I drew on the walls with them, and my mother hated the crayons so much, she threw them away. My uncle found out and bought me another set, this time the 72 instead of 48. I left them in the back of the car and they melted. He yet again bought me another set. He was a great uncle not because he kept spoiling me, but because he obviously loved me so. Losing him when I was 4/5 was one of the deepest pains I've ever felt in my life, and all because someone decided to get in their car drunk.

    I hate it when people tell me that time heals pain because it doesn't. It just doesn't. Nothing brings back a person who was killed by something as idiotic as drunk driving. Time just numbs the pain. I know this sounds really pessimistic, but I don't mean it that way. All that time does is just get you to accept the loss.

    And I'm so very sorry for your loss.

    Someone once said something to me that does make me feel better, so I'll repeat it here. It's not about quantity of life, but quality. That's what keeps me going. Life is brief, yes, but you do the best you can to live it the best way you know how.

  3. Hey - I hope you don't think I only comment on your sad posts - I read it all - but I don't want you to have any reason to think these go out into a vacuum - so, I'm out here in internet land, taking it all in and being grateful you share so much, and really sorry for stories like these.

  4. I'm so sorry for your loss :( . Thank you for sharing your life with us though and I wish I was there to give you a hug. XOXO, Natalya

  5. I am so sorry for your loss =(
    I really don't know what to say at times like these, we don't even know each other in "real life" but you seem like the type of person I'd enjoy being friends with, so I'm sure that your friend enjoyed having known you, and I hope you always remember him as the nice guy you met and had good conversations with.

  6. Oh Joann, I am so sorry for your loss. I think one of the reasons your blog is never vain or trivial is because you share your real life, the good and the sad. Take care.

  7. Thank you for sharing your story - I'm not sure what else to write except that my heart goes out to you and his family and friends.

    We all have to remember how fleeting life can be and really remember to enjoy the time we have and the people we have in our lives.

  8. Although it isn't nearly as good as the real thing, it's all I've got. *hug*

  9. I'm so sorry for your loss, Joann. Your friend's accident must have been such a shock.

  10. Joann-- what a beautiful and well-written post. My thoughts go out to his family, friends, and you.

    It is always difficult to hear about young people passing before their intended times. You're absolutely right-- it isn't fair, and it will never be fair. I hope that everyone is able to learn something from your story.

    Thank for for sharing.

  11. JoAnn- I read the article from your tweets last night... When I read about the offending driver I got so angry. Such irresponsibility, for herself and others, obviously.

    This is already an incredibly sad story, but to add in the details of your friends life and decisions (both that night and regarding his personal life and career) just makes it so heartbreaking.

    Thanks for sharing, and reminding us about our own blessings.

  12. Death is the one thing that can make us change our minds about how we live. Regardless on if we are prepared for it or not, losing someone close to you is hard, I know. Sometimes you just don't care about the trivial things and that's okay.. Time heals all wounds, but sometimes it take much longer than you expected.

  13. Oh, J, my heart goes out to you. My God, how horrible.

  14. Sorry for your loss, it's a sick irony that he'd be killed by someone who was doing just what he was trying to prevent. My grandfather died after suffering a heart attack that resulted from being hit by a driver under the influence, it's sad to think how many lives have been lost due to the irresponsibility of a few.

  15. I'm sorry you lost someone you were close with, Joanna... I never know what to say, but I am thinking about you and I admire your taking the time to write about your friend, and find some sort of goodness to come out of such a terrible tragedy.

  16. Such very sad news, I shall be thinking of your friend and you at this sad time.

    We really must make the most of or life.


  17. Oh my goodness .. so so sad :( I feel for for and your loss!

  18. You are more than allowed to express sentiment on your very own blog. I'm sure no one questions it.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. Your post was beautifully written and a wonderful tribute to your friendship and life itself.

    Thank you for reminding us to really love those we love and live while we still have breath.

    My heart goes out to you and to his family.

  19. I'm at a loss for words. I understand the great sadness that comes with the sudden loss of a friend. I agree that life is so brief, and I suppose all we can really do is be thankful for every day we're given and love those closest to our hearts. I am so sorry to hear about this doll. Sending lots of love your way <3


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