Tuesday, February 1, 2011

For Paul: A Second Chance

Almost a week ago, Paul Raney was killed in an argument with a friend. Paul is a 22-year-old from Chelan, and I knew him because he was a 6’4” tall redhead with a gift for teaching kids to ski, even if he sometimes had to get on his knees to hear them. He was good at what he did, and he was also good at reaching things in high places for me. He did not deserve to die.
This blog started out as a hopeless, helpless rant against death, but after writing out four pages about it, it came to me that what it’s really about is second chances, and what we can eke out of a senseless tragedy so that it doesn’t have to be a total waste of life.
This is not a political statement; I don’t want to talk about who shot him or what will happen to him. What I do want to talk about, however, is that there are no second chances with death. Sometimes it amazes me how easily lives are taken – traded, bartered, used as collateral – when each of us only has one of them. You cannot apologize to death and ask for another chance, for yourself or another. Death is hard enough to face anyway; facing an unexpected death is that much worse, but when it all comes down to it, all death is final and it cannot be argued with.
So I can rant about it, about how unfair it is, and how we should all be more careful, but ultimately, I want to be able to say something more positive when I remember Paul. I want to remember all the funny things he said, his bright neon snow gear, and how much the kids in his lessons loved him. I want to remember that losing Paul reminded me that life is much too fragile and too easily taken away to waste it. I want him to know that I am going to take the second chance that he was not allowed and I’m going to wring every last drop of life out of it as if it were a sopping wet towel. I know that someday we all will die: that with death we don’t get another chance. That may be true, but I can choose this, this moment, losing Paul, as my second chance at appreciating life.

Love and second chance kisses