Friday, May 31, 2013

The wrecking ball of loss

Two Dogs and his Chief, fall 2007

Some losses you can prepare for.

A parent’s lingering illness, finally saying goodbye to school, even the yearly end of summer – you know, even if it’s only in your head, that the end is coming and your life is going to change afterward.

Then, you have the losses you don’t see coming. The ones that hit you like a wrecking ball in the middle of normal life. You weren’t ready for this. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

On Tuesday, May 28th, Two Dogs and I lost one of our best friends, Chief Gary Lee Grey Eagle. Chief was getting ready to go to a Fleetwood Mac concert when he dropped dead of a heart attack. Just like that.

We thought that we would be able to see Chief again sometime soon. Perhaps go over to his house, or sit by our apartment pool, smoking cigars (well, the men would), and talking about everything and nothing. 

Chief was only in his early sixties. He had lost part of one leg to diabetes, but he said he was feeling better lately. We didn’t predict something like this would happen – not right now.

What are we supposed to do with this?

Regret not taking the time to see Chief more often? Regret the questions we wanted to ask, but didn’t (I wanted to ask Chief if he thought the Washington Redskins should keep that name)? 

Remember what he had to say about life? Chief asked Two Dogs to imagine himself as the still, stoic tree, not the agitated monkeys climbing up it. 

Think about who and what else we can suddenly lose – including ourselves?

Chief left a hole in our lives which no one else can ever fill. All losses, expected and sudden, are like that. From now on, we will have to live without him.


We don’t know yet. But we will learn.

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