The other day I was mindlessly “thumbing through” Facebook and saw a former classmate’s obituary. If his picture had not been included, I would not have recognized his name and would have ignored the posting. You see, Chris and I did not know each other well. We only spoke once, ever.
It was years ago. I was visiting my hometown and meeting some friends at the local hotspot. Finding me momentarily unengaged, Chris had approached the table. He made no attempt at common courtesies or cursory greetings and jumped right in. He asked me how I had done it. How had I pulled up stakes with a kid and moved? How did I escape the security and safety of our small town and finally leave? He said a lot of people talked about doing it, but no one ever did. How had I finally gotten the guts to move on?
I was somewhat taken aback. I did not know him and was surprised he knew my story. He was obviously very unhappy in his present situation and needed to make a change. I do not remember how the younger me responded. I do know I tried very hard to be inspirational, but as I recall, my words fell flat. In the end, I wished him well, felt good about being brave for a few minutes, and did not think about it again. He was one of those many incidental people we meet in life; we have neither the capacity nor the time to stay connected.
Now, reading the tribute, our long-ago conversation came back to me. His torment. His unhappiness. His frustration. But my sadness for him in dying young and his missed opportunities was short-lived. According to the text, Chris had not stayed stuck. Not long after our conversation, he had moved to Hawaii, never returning to the mainland or our small town. Chris had done what he thought he could never do but desperately wanted. He was brave, moved on, and lived life the way he wanted.
And dear reader, how can anyone be sad about that?
M.J. Minerman writes for spinsters around the world who have "not found their lids and are pursuing lives well-lived."