My heart dropped earlier this year when I went to work and was told one of our tenants had died. A death is always sad and however many we hear about, it will always seem a horrible but inevitable part of life. But sometimes, even when it’s a stranger, it can hit home harder than usual.
I don’t know what it was about this particular bit of sad news that made me want to cry there and then at my desk. But I got on with my job and it wasn’t until I got home and started thinking about the man who had died that it didn’t just seem so very sad, but unnecessary too. Not to mention unfair. He was practically a stranger to us all… yet he has certainly made an impact. Days later the papers were reporting it and weeks later we were still dealing with his empty flat.
Not long ago, maybe before summer, I had to visit his apartment with a repairman while he was away. And sitting in his kitchen I couldn’t help but notice his models of planes and helicopters and a huge manual about flying. Being a complete geek I thought it was wonderful. I already knew he was a pilot as when tenants move in, it’s one of the first things we ask. And everything was so tidy! He’d even washed up his single cup and bowl from breakfast. I remember thinking it sad that he didn’t seem to have anyone else around, but then again he may have enjoyed his own space. It’s funny the little things I notice about a person even when they’re not there. Now I imagine him leaving his home that day with his things all tidied away just like he had that time I sat in his kitchen – only this time he wasn’t coming back. I didn’t speak to him an awful lot but when I did he was always so polite and just seemed to have a good heart. That’s something you can’t always say about everyone you meet..
And that was probably the last time I spoke to him or any of us heard from him at all. Our office had a call one weekend to say he had died when the helicopter he was flying crashed. At first I just thought how incredibly sad it was that he died doing something he lived for, his passion. Though it’s also a slight comfort to think that maybe, when any of us do go, it could be that our last memory is doing the one thing we love…
Time is short. I don’t know how many times I have to say this to myself before it sinks in completely. I may have “Live your life” and “Wanderlust” tattooed on my arm as reminders but even permanent ink doesn’t always work. Every death, every bad bit of news, every sad story I hear just drives it home to me how I need to start living. Every hesitation I have, every chance I consider passing by… I learning now that I can’t. You just never know what is around the corner or beyond the next hour and that’s the bottom line. It can drive you crazy if you let it – but it can also set you free.
Our tenant will never know how he has made me think about my own life and direction and for that I am forever grateful. I just hope he’s at peace now. So thank you Mr B for reminding me how short life is and I really hope you enjoyed yours right until that last moment.
And everyone else? Please get out there and be who you want and do what it is you feel inside. Life’s not even a game, it’s simpler than that. It’s a journey with no meaning other than finding happiness – and that’s all there is to it.