Thursday, April 12, 2007

33

The Old Testament says a good life should range somewhere between 70 and 80 years. Anything more than that is a bonus. The flipside? Anything less is a ripoff.

So when I received the news earlier today that a good friend of mine had passed away suddenly at 33, my first thought once the initial wave of shock rolled past my incredulous brain was that he was shortchanged. Worse, he was a superb writer who shared his gift with everyone who crossed his path, so the world was shortchanged, too.

I'm still absorbing the sudden loss of a friend with whom I could endlessly discuss the intricacies and difficulties of writing about technology. I find myself thinking about how easily I would pick up the phone and within seconds we'd be bantering about opportunities to use our writers' voices to shed light on the murky convergence point of technology and culture.

Writers often use small groups of trusted friends to "blue sky" their future ideas, to refine what they're going to work on and temperature-check whether an idea should ever see the light of day. When he called me at work for comment on a story he was writing, we would often end up batting around additional ideas for future work. If he was on deadline, the conversation would often continue that evening.

I was privileged to meet him when we were in Florida a couple of years back. When we realized I was going to be vacationing near his home, we arranged to meet for lunch. He came to my in-laws' house with gifts for the kids - stuffed animals that they cherish to this day - and we spent hours chatting about whatever it is that writers chat about. Ever since, we never spoke without him asking about my wife and kids. When I published a column about our youngest son, he sent a painstakingly created, framed four-color treatment of the picture I used to accompany it. He was empathetically kind in a way that most folks today are not.

I had always been a bit of a hybrid. Depending on one's perspective, I was either a journalist with a bent for technology or a technologist who could write. Either way, he got it, and speaking with him helped me realize that my skills were a gift and an opportunity, and not a curse. I became a better writer, a better person, because I knew him. It was just my luck that I got to cross his path and become his professional collaborator and friend.

His name was David Garrett. He was 33 years-old. He was ripped off. So were we.

38 comments:

kenju said...

Carmi, I know what it means to lose a friend who has been cut down in the prime of his life. I am so sorry for your friend - and you. I hope your good memories of him will help to ease the pain you are feeling now.

Leanne said...

I'm so sorry. :(

craziequeen said...

oh Carmi - what a shame.

I'm thinking of David, as I think of my friend Joe every day who took his life at 25.

Sometimes we are ripped off, sometimes Life just ain't fair.

Thinking of you too, my friend.

cq

Anonymous said...

Carmi, You've written a beautiful tribute to a beautiful human being. Thank you. I too am a better person for knowing David. He was one of the kindest souls I've ever known. I hope I can pass along even just a fraction of the good things I got from him, so that he may continue to enrich my life and the lives of my children and loved ones. Take care, Carmi. --rebecca

beth said...

Carmi - so, so sorry for your loss. I will pray for you and for David's family this evening.

Write From Karen said...

Thirty-three? Life was just beginning! What a shame. I'm sorry for your loss - it sounds like he was a person who made a difference, in not just your life, but in many lives.

I envy your friendship with Mr. Garrett - I've never had anyone who I could talk to like that. It sounds like he'll be truly missed. Treasure the time you had with him and never forget him.

Lee Ann said...

I am so sorry for your (and our) loss. He sounds like the most incredible person. I do understand your emotions, as I have lost dear ones long too long before they should have been taken away.
My thoughts are with you.

tommiea said...

Carmi-I am so sorry for your loss. I contantly try to live my life so that it positively impacts those around me. What you have written about your friend is exactly how I want others to remember me.

Sarch said...

So sad to hear Carmi.

The man obviously was someone special indeed. I wish that I had been able to meet him.

I know he would have appreciated the words you have shared about him.

Mr. Althouse said...

A little more than ten years ago, I lost a friend with whom I shared much in common. He died suddenly of a heart attack on Labor Day. He was 33. He was the sole support for his wife and three young children... his youngest and only son was just about 3 years old. His widow and children stayed in the area for a while, but eventually moved to the Pacific Northwest. Life for her proved to be overwhelming after her husband passed. It's a long and sad story... one I haven't thought much about in a while. Perhaps I needed to.

Thanks, Carmi.

Mike

Chelle A. said...

I'm sorry for your loss, Carmi!

Chelle

MileHighDivaCyn said...

Carmi, my deepest sympathies. 33 is so young....and I am sorry for you and all who knew him and those who won't have the chance.
My dad died at the age of 56
I'm 53...
I think about it all the time

surcie said...

Good friends are hard to come by. I'm so sorry, Carmi.

kenju said...

Carmi, Michele sent me back. You are, as you said, a better person for having known him. Take that knowledge and impart it to his family, and it will help to give them peace. Perhaps you will gain peace and acceptance, even though it passes understanding.

raehan said...

I'm so sorry, Carmi

colleen said...

I'm sorry for his family and everyone who knew him. That is sooo too soon to lose a life.

Jeremiah said...

If his memory and his words remain in your hearts and in your writing then he will never die.

As tradition also states that he came into this world, he lived and when he departed, he left it a better place for he impacted you in ways you that changed you as a man, a father and as a writer.

Eternal rest grant him
and may perpetual light shine upon him.

My condolences.
Jeremy

L said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss :(
I know what it's like to lose a friend-- especially one so young.

Anna said...

Carmi,

I am so heartbroken to hear of your friend David. I am sure that there is a lot of disbelief and sadness all around. I am sitting here a year older than him, trying to come to grasp with my own mortality. My thoughts are with you and his family for this incredibly painful loss. He sounds like a man with a genuine heart for others and I am sure that he will be missed by all who knew and loved him.

Your last lines are resonating with me this morning as I wake...I am so sorry.

Please take care.

caramaena said...

My condolences carmi.

This post brought tears to my eyes, not only for your friend, but it also brought to mine the death of a friend in a bicycle accident just over a month ago - also in his early 30's.

It's too soon.

Bob-kat said...

Carmi, I am so sorry for your loss of a dear friend. Your tribute to him is wonderful. Condolences to all who knew and loved him and to those who shall never get to know him.

PI said...

So sad to lose such a good friend and so early in life. I truly believe that as long as there is one person left on earth who loves the person who has died - they live on in our hearts and minds.
Michele sent me.

Ash said...

It is indeed so sad for someone with so much to offer to leave so soon. If only we knew all the why's in life. He sounds like what Julia Cameron refers to as 'your catchers mitt'...that someone who gets your profession and is always there to catch the ball for you, help with aim and encouragement. So sorry for your loss.
Hi from Michele's

Heidi said...

Much sympathy, Carmi.

Prayers for you and for all who knew him, Heidi

MoMMY said...

Carmi-
So sorry for our loss. He sounds like someone we all should have known. You are in my thoughts.

Becky68 said...

Oh Carmi, I am so sorry for your loss, I'm 38 & know a lot of people who are just that age (my ex is 33 too & so are many of his friends - most of whom I'm still friendly with)
It's too true, it is a rip off to leave this life that early.
Here from Micheles today.

Jennifer said...

Oh I'm so sorry to hear that.

Hugs to you all

Carolyn said...

It's always sad to hear of a death, but one so young seems harder to accept. I'm also sorry for your loss, and my heart goes out to his family.

Linda said...

So sorry to hear about your friend, Carmi. I lost a good friend at 34, to insidious cancer. Her family was ripped off...she left 4 children behind. She left us all behind.

Holly Schwendiman said...

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I hate the ripped off factor.

Hugs,
Holly

Maria said...

Carmi,
There is great anger when we lose someone young who has so much to offer our world. My thoughts go out to you. Life is so precious and I understand feeling ripped off. I lost a son when he was 23 years old. I still wonder why.

MissMeliss said...

Ohh, Carmi, I'm so sorry for your loss. He must have been special indeed for you to have been his friend.







(Michele sent me, but you know I visit regularly anyway.)

Moi said...

Carmi ur sincere tribute to ur friend is so humbling.....My condolences..

Ramona said...

Seems like in his short life, he was the kind of person who took the time to make friends and be friends. No doubt, he will be very much missed by everyone who knew him. Your words were especially touching, and I truly am saddened by your loss.

(Here via Michele's.)
And, your Icicle is beautiful, if also very short-lived. Glad you captured the moment in time, it was meant to be.

Awareness said...

One can never replace a kindred spirit......they are so special in our lives.

My heart is feeling for you Carmi.

so many things in life have no thread to meaning......... they just leave us in sorrow shaking our heads.

take care.

dana

Catheroo said...

Oh, Carmi. I'm terribly sorry for your loss. What a wonderful and loving tribute to a dear friend.

I wish you peace.

Madame Courtney Whiny Complainy Pants, Esq. said...

Carmi, I am so sorry for your loss. Having buried three friends too early (24, 27, and 33), I know that heart and gut wrenching sickness that comes with these losses. All losses are painful, but when they are so young, it intensifies.

ChaCha said...

Losing a loved one is the hardest thing to go through, my sin[athies go out to you Carmi