Aside, of course, from the daily farce that is the fact I haven’t been discovered as the 21st century’s most promising unpublished novelist as yet, my life has seen a remarkable lack of tragedy. I look around me at my friends and workmates, and wonder why my life hasn’t been touched with tragedy in the same way most of theirs have been. I guess it’s just dumb luck – I don’t believe in a Higher Power that’s somehow keeping me safe and protecting me from harm, so it must purely be fate that’s led to my sheltered life so far.
Two of my four grandparents are still alive – both of my mom’s parents. My dad’s parents died before I was born, in a car crash that gave my dad the limp he has to this day. But that was his tragedy, not mine. It’s hard to get too worked up about people who died 20 years before you were born.
So I’ve never had to deal with the death of someone close to me. The nearest I came was when my dad was taken to the emergency room with chest pains, but it didn’t turn out to be anything too serious and, besides, I was away at college at the time and didn’t even hear about it till the next morning.
I’ve been to plenty of funerals, possibly four or five, but I’ve never been close to the person in the coffin. So I’ve found them sad, but not HEART-BREAKINGLY sad, not SOBBING OUT LOUD sad, if you know what I mean. They’ve all been strangely at a distance, as if they’re happening to other people, not me.
I like to think I’m quite an empathetic person. I definitely get affected when I see back things happening on the TV. Who the hell couldn’t be affected by what went on in Las Vegas? But you watch something like that and, if you’re honest, you have to admit that it’s hard to put yourself in those people’s place and really understand what they’ve been going through. We all try to do it, but I think we all fail, if only we’d admit it to ourselves. I see pictures of people sheltering behind fences, wondering if the next bullet is going to have their name on it, and I really don’t have a clue what they’re going through. It’s beyond belief.
Does this make me a bad person, this distance I feel from tragic events? Maybe it does. Maybe I won’t truly be able to walk in other people’s shoes until I’ve experienced proper tragedy in my life for myself. I’m quite happy for that not to happen for a very, very long time.