Skip to main content

Final Exits

"Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future."
                                                                           --- Cloud Atlas

Recent events in our community have left me reeling. Vicente Mundo, a 20-year-old student at the university here, was murdered last week, shot in the head as he tried to escape from people attempting to rob him of drugs and money. By all accounts, he was a nice young man, definitely handsome. Came to our community from Chicago, working on getting his bachelor's degree, preparing to start his adult life in earnest. That's all gone now. It's sad, it's terrifying, it's anger-inducing.

When a senseless, violent death occurs, it makes me think -- of all things -- of their birth. And then I realize that all deaths should probably invoke such thoughts. I think of how such lives must have begun.... indeed, how most lives begin. Most births are fairly similar. True, there are some deviations but, for the most part, the baby exits the mother's body, and enters the world often surrounded by love. This assumes that there is family present, which there typically is, and that the family is grateful to see the child, which is usually the case.

So our births are much the same. We enter the world from our mothers' wombs, surrounded by love, swaddled with whatever warm substance is at-hand, and we are looked after. Not so with our deaths. For whatever reason, that fills me with some degree of sadness. So very often the norm is for life to take over. We grow more callous toward one another. We become centered on our own day-to-day activities and wants, worries and happiness, and the love that was so present when we entered this world is often nowhere to be found upon our exit.

Think of all those lost on battlefields throughout history: their armor pierced by arrows, their helmets by bullets, mortar shells blowing their bodies apart. Now picture their births: the happy parents, the release of the umbilical cord, the first time they were held in loving arms. Did they deserve to have such opposite bookends to their lives? What of folks -- young or old -- who pass away emaciated after long battles with disease? Their births seem to be such irreconcilable occurrences.

I dunno, dear reader. So very few of us slip away healthily, in our sleep, with a loved one close by. It happens, of course, but very rarely without the happiness of our birth. Either we are in pain, or unaware of our surroundings, or meet a violent end, or are alone. And, for the most part, I don't think we deserve it. Vicente Mundo certainly didn't deserve to die with a bullet to the head. I can't help but think that his birth deserved a better bookend than that.


Popular posts from this blog

If You Could Read My Mind

Dance clubs are a funny thing. They contain within their walls a life force and vibrancy sometimes unmatched anywhere else. When dusk settles and the lights come on, people will flood the dance floors to gyrate to music with hypnotic beats and songs about love, lust and fun at the disco. At gay bars, this sort of scenario usually increases ten-fold. It isn't for everyone, but for many it is a respite from the harsh realities of the real word. It is a place that isn't just a structure, but a sanctuary where folks -- minorities in their own communities -- can take shelter and unwind with abandon, at least for a few nighttime hours.
As someone who benefited greatly from such an aforementioned gay dance club, you can imagine my dismay at news of the closing of Chester Street Bar. In business for over three decades, gay-owned and operated, there was a time when C-Street (as it was known by most) was the only haven for those in the LGBT community, near and far, to enjoy themselves …

Third Death

My father has had three funerals. The third (though perhaps not final) one, was last night.
In reality, Lewis died in 1997. Cancer. Aged 52. He had a real funeral. I was there. The next two funerals occurred only in my dreams, yet they seemed real at the time, and their impact during the waking hours was keenly felt.
You see, during the intervening nineteen years, Lewis has come back to life in my dreams, many times. It is more than simply having a dream about him. During these nighttime images, it is noted that Lewis shouldn't be there, that he died of cancer and is resting six feet under. How, then, could he be alive and, seemingly, healthy?

Thoughts on an Election

Before I get started on the ruminations of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, I'll begin by saying I really have no clue as to who our next president will be. I've always fretted over the outcome of elections, regardless of the polls, and this year is no different. Especially this year. A good case can be made as to why Hillary Clinton will become our 45th president. All one has to do is look at the polls. Clinton has a comfortable lead in many states, enough to make one think that she will win handily on November 8th.
Of course, polls can be wrong. 538 gives Clinton's changes of winning in the low-mid 80 percent range. Several polls would seem to agree. Many Republicans are jumping ship from Trump. The race looks over. But of course, humanity isn't as easily predictable as polling would have us believe. Things happen. People can surprise us. And, for better or worse, I think that Donald Trump may very well become our next president.