Last Sunday’s snowstorm stripped a lot of our trees well before their time this season. The dying leaves couldn’t stand up to the onslaught of wet, heavy snow and ice. They fell to the ground in large clumps, robbing us of the autumn magic of slowly falling leaves that crunch happily underfoot. When the snow melted a few days later, the bare trees still cast a tone of death over the Front Range.
And we experienced a real death. A man our age that a friend of mine met a while back on a dating app passed away from sepsis. One day he was out working and laughing and enjoying the company of his friends, assuming he had at least 40 more years of life ahead. Two days later he was dead.
People die all the time, of course. Young people die all the time. People die unexpectedly all the time. And none of us had ever actually met this person. Though he and my friend texted for quite a while and linked up on social media, they never went on a date. Yet he was still a small part of our lives in the way that so many people are now, through Facebook. He often liked and commented on my friend’s posts of all of us, the trips we took, the hikes we went on, the fun we had in town. We joked about him and his inability to follow through meeting up with our friend in person. Long after it was clear they would never go on a date, he still came up in conversation from time to time. He was a presence.
This stark reminder of how quickly our lives can be taken from us, coupled with a spectacular weekend of sunshine, temperatures in the high 70s, and clear skies prompted me emerge from the shell of solitude I’ve been enjoying for the past month. I spent almost the entire weekend with other humans. I set aside the world of make believe I often inhabit inside of books and became part of the real, interactive world again. I met up with acquaintances to work on creative writing projects together, instead of isolation, and build our community. I spent time exploring new trails and lying down on top of a mountain absorbing the suns rays not in silence, as I’ve been doing, but deep in conversation with someone new and intriguing. I shared a communal table at a popular brewery with some people I knew and some total strangers I’ll likely never see again, letting the conversation meander and discovering other lives. I went trail running with a friend, feeling my lungs and heart so fantastically alive and strong, pushing me uphill miles through beautiful terrain and past views of snow capped peaks in the distance that someone else was there to appreciate as well. And I devoured a completely unhealthy brunch accompanied by raunchy and hilarious entertainment and good conversation with long standing friends.
Introverts are drained by too much socializing. We need to be alone to recharge and feel normal. I generally like to do one or two activities with other people on the weekend, not five. And I do feel exhausted from all the activity of the past 60 hours, but I also know that if I ended up in the hospital with sepsis or any other condition tomorrow, I’ll wish I had spent more time with the people I care about, not with my books and computer. So exhaustion aside, I can say that this was a wonderful weekend to be alive.