I am not sure if, statistically, more people die in winter or if it the cold and the darkness that makes it seem so. I also recognize my own tendency to find patterns in occurrences, one way of making sense of senselessness when you run out of other tools. It doesn't matter. Some one I knew died last night, in his sleep. As I take the time this winter to remember Helen, Vi and Flee and my grandma and Phil and Nathan, now I also will remember Eric.
The first time I met Little Eric he lied to me about his age. He used to come in our house in the morning because we didn't lock the doors, asking questions. He was almost a teenager, always smart and inquizative but sometimes deceptive and sneaky. It got him into trouble for sure. But he still had a good heart, even if he didn't always know how to show it.
I don't believe in Heaven, not in the way I learned in Sunday school so I find no comfort thinking of him in the afterlife. I just know he isn't in New Orleans or Florida anymore, talking his way into or out of something. He used to hang around with us sometimes, too young to be a peer but too old and independent to be told what to do. I won't run into him again, crossing Robertson. Telling me about his big ideas. And he won't be able to see them through.
Before my grandma died she lived though the deaths of all her closest friends and their spouses, including her husband. She lost a son to polio sixty years before she died. And she still didn't give up. She was tired sometimes and sad but she kept going all the way till 95, still telling everyone what to do. I want to remember to live well, to fight for what is important, and to love well and openly. Little Eric, there were things against you in this world for sure, but a lot of love too. And I have to know that's all there is for all of us.