AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl event160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! In the end, I was glad we became friends again. We weren’t the kind of friends who call each other in an emergency but the kind who work together and know the brief outlines of each other’s lives. We once had a falling out and did not talk for several months, and I looked away and ignored him whenever he walked by. Then one day I found I needed his help with something, and it was enough to thaw the ice that had come between us. And whenever we saw each other after that, I would comment on how shapely his legs had become from the many miles he had ridden his bike to and from work. Sometimes I would tell him that his legs were better than most women’s, and he would smile before walking away. I was glad I had the chance to break the ice. The first day of spring break, he went out for a morning bike ride, probably enjoying the feel of the crisp morning air on his face during one of the first acts of his vacation. As he was riding along, a drunk driver with a history of prior convictions veered off the road and onto the shoulder where my friend was riding. He never even made it to the hospital. Whenever something like this happens, I sometimes wonder whether fate’s at work. I do not know the answer, but this I know for sure: People are not supposed to take each other’s lives in that way. My friend had just turned 58. He was supposed to have walked his daughter down the aisle the following month, and he was supposed to have retired in June. A while back, I interviewed a woman whose daughter was murdered by a child predator, and she told me that it was the most shocking thing to have to go through. Now I had some small sense of what she meant. The driver of that car snuffed out not only my friend’s life, but other lives that went through his as well, all because of his narcissism and self-indulgence. If the driver was an alcoholic, he could have joined a support group and got help. If he wanted to drink, he could have made plans before opening the bottle or have given the keys to someone else. As for me, I can only say that I am grateful for having had the chance to have cleared the air, to have said hello to a friend and to have told him I thought he had the greatest legs. This is not the first time I have suffered a loss, although it is the first time I have suffered one due to an act of violence one person inflicted on another. Last year, another co-worker starved herself down to a skeletal frame and died from anorexia nervosa. She never even made it to 30. And I have lost an aunt and both sets of grandparents. Each time, I take stock of that relationship and am grateful for the good times and the chance to let the person know that how much I appreciated him. And I think back to all the other times, too, and vow to do better in the future, but it always turns out to be a short-lived vow soon forgotten once the wounds start to heal. Until it happens again. William Saroyan once said that he knows that everyone is going to get older and die, but he was hoping they’d make an exception for him. In my own way, I was hoping that they would make an exception for me, too. Perhaps it is the only way any of us can keep our sanity. Still, I am jolted into the sense that all the time in the world is only an expression, so I try and appreciate the small things: the sound of the lawn mower in the distance as the gardener at my job cuts the grass and frets over the sprinkler system, and the smell of flowers at the market. I try to live with as much direction and grace as possible, and let others know that I appreciate them and how much they mean to me. I just wish it didn’t take a catastrophe to make the lesson stick. Gail-Tzipporah Saunders is a San Fernando Valley writer.
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