It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting on a blow-up mattress, my back against pillows propped up on a bare, white wall. The mattress has a sheet on it, as my wife and I sometimes sleep out here if the other is too fussy, or if it’s too cold, or if someone falls asleep watching Vine compilations.
The dog, like she is every single minute that I’m home—which is a lot because I work from here—is curled up next to me. She’s not touching, as she’s never liked cuddling, but she’s close enough to pet. I’m careful not to disturb her, as even a passing interest in her direction riles her up. Eh, she’s a dog, right?
The sky outside is still hazy, leftover smoke from the wildfires in eastern Washington and Oregon drifted into the city yesterday. It’s both beautiful and haunting, with a lingering sadness. Those fires have killed people and destroyed homes. It’s probably our (humans) fault. I suppose it’s a natural process and part of a healthy ecosystem in the long run, but it’s tough to understand the big picture when people are suffering right now.
But hey, let’s get back to me. It’s been a few weeks since my buddy John Kelly‘s funeral, and almost two days since Atticus VanSlyke took his last breath. One, the father of four, died during a police training exercise and was buried a hero. He left behind decades of good deeds, strong family and friends, but passed before I ever go to know him as an adult.
The second, one of four children born to a family with a father just like John, lived his entire life since I left Arizona. Atticus, born a month before my first nephew and passing a few days after the birth of my first niece, lived a lifetime in a devastatingly-too-short 23 months. I only met him once, but his passing has been a cruel reminder that tough things happen to good people, and that being there for someone is all we can ever really do.
While I’m not sure if I believe in Heaven, I know that both John Kelly and Atticus VanSlyke’s families do, so I sure do hope the adult John Kelly I never got to meet has a blast raising the kid Atticus VanSlyke that no one ever got to get to know.
I sure would love to sit next to them on a couch right now.