I saw a dead man

I saw a dead man last Friday night. He was lying flat on the road beside his motorcycle. His helmet, which had apparently done nothing to protect his skull from being crushed, was lying a few feet away from him. Traffic had slowed as a result of the accident, and as the cab I was on slowly snaked around the scene of his death, the cab driver and I were able to get a good view of what was left of his head. The cab driver grimaced at the sight, while I shivered with the coldness of how sudden, impersonal and final death can be.

Just a few minutes ago, the man and his female companion, I would later read, were navigating C-5, on their way home, I suppose, like many of the commuters on the road with them. While I was rushing to the elevator, mindful that my mother had been waiting at Starbucks Emerald for over an hour already, he was alive, on the road, navigating yet another round of Friday night traffic.

Was he stressed like I was? Did he have a difficult day at work? Was he able to relish, even for a moment, the feeling of having another person's arms wrapped around him?

Whatever his final thoughts were -- he is gone.

A couple of months ago, I heard that a young bubbly girl I had just met but liked instantly had died. Jaline had asthma.

In one of our few short conversations, she told me she had read my work. I was surprised, because I haven't been writing as much as I had when I was working for a newspaper. I was inspired, and I played with the idea of dedicating my book to her, for reading me even before anything substantial could be read. I had fancied we would be friends; she was also a writer. She also clearly loved life.

That same Friday morning, while organizing my papers, I found an old note she had written her email address on. We were supposed to work together on a newsletter, but when I emailed her, she didn't get back to me, perhaps because she was busy at work. I didn't mind; I understood how work can get in the way of things.

That note, in my version of the story of how our friendship would have begun, was the beginning.

But she's also gone now. At her funeral, I also shivered with the coldness of how sudden, impersonal and final death can be.

Thoughts of death leading up to my 34th, not because I'm feeling old or anything like that. I don't know what to make of these thoughts, except that one thing is clear: We know neither the day nor the hour.

When my hour comes, I want to be thinking: This is exactly what I want to be doing.