My mom and I had a talk yesterday, at her request, because she is worried about me. She has sensed that something has been different about me for a while, she says, but it only became clear to her after she re-read this blog, and finally saw a pattern.
She pointed out to me that I mentioned in my post the other day during the fight that we lost two people, and she was horrified that I didn't even tell their names, that in my next post I acted like their deaths didn't matter, hadn't even happened. I have been reading over my own posts off and on since then, and I have come to realize that she is right: I have become isolated from most of the people around here.
There are obvious reasons for this, of course. I have been under a tremendous amount of pressure, and my position virtually guarantees that I will see each and every person at their very worst moments. Add to that our increased numbers and my workload, and it becomes clear that my time to get to know people is somewhere between slim and none. That is completely ignoring these damn zombie attacks that just keep getting more frequent.
But it does not excuse me from trying to find something out about them, to create some more lasting tribute to them than "Two of our people died". That is my failing, and I take ownership of it.
So let me do that, here and now, brief and unworthy as it is.
Two men died on our most recent trip. Their names were Phil and Vince. I will not use their last names, as they have surviving family here, and they have asked that I do not give that information. Before the fall, Phil, 34, owned a small plumbing company in Cynthiana. He was an avid sports fan, a loving husband, and father to three. He donated money to various charities, Heifer International was his favorite. He loved to listen to and play the piano, and when he moved here, he often opened his house to others who loved music, and would serenade his visitors with tunes that ranged from old-school honky tonk to Mozart. He is survived by his wife and all three of his children. He told many that he felt like the luckiest man in the world that his entire immediate family survived, and his wife takes some solace in the fact that all of their children live because of his efforts.
Vince, 55, was more of a mystery. He arrived here with the large group that came at the same time as my brother and his brood. He and his wife ran a small bed and breakfast near Cave Run Lake, a quiet retirement after Vince's thirty years in law enforcement were up. He was a quiet man in our meetings, but his words were always measured and concise when he did speak. He was not a social animal, preferring to spend his free time with his wife, and what activities they undertook together remain their business. It is my hope that even after so many years, they spent time learning about each other every day, and loving one another.
I see that I need to relearn to exist with the people here, and not separate from them. My friends and family are close to me, but I have hardened my heart to becoming close to new people. Maybe because I am afraid to lose them, maybe because I don't want to put myself through the agony of remembering when they die, and eulogizing them when I must.
My heart is fragile, no matter what the rest of you might see, and it is my fear of losing you, of failing you, that urges me to walk apart.
Forgive me that.