Friday, March 16, 2012

Whither now?

In our Fortress of Reflection, where we wax and wane on things Lex, there are a couple of dominant memes. One is that Lex's demise reminds us of our frailty. A reminder that life is fleeting and oft taken for granted. In some ways, upon reflection it is not news to us. At face value that is. If you've not suffered a recent loss it's very easy to forget that we really are here today, gone tomorrow. As I dwell on the Lex thread I've neglected other threads that I belong to, where others that I have known or known of have passed in the last week.

 It came to me one day as I watched Number One Daughter back out of our driveway that I might be looking at her for the last time. Not because she was leaving us, heading to somewhere specifically dangerous, but because she was an American teenager heading out onto the roads of America. Given her inexperience and the danger that inhabits the streets of America she was heading out into, she could do everything right and still be killed on the streets. And this was pre-texting. This sudden thought all but dropped me to my knees like a punch to the gut.

 It was not a premonition, she left and later returned unharmed and having had no close calls. It was just an awareness of how fragile life is. A sudden dawning that my child was now participating in life in a manner that could suddenly snatch her away from me without warning or reason. Twenty years in the Army where some friends of mine died within minutes of me seeing them that last time had not prepared me for the mortal danger that is life on this planet for my children.

And for us, what happened to Lex is scary. He was a really good aviator, he believed in rehearsing the hard things during good weather because if it's hard under good circumstances, it's more so when the chips are down. So he walked the walk, he did the things that you should do to prepare you for when you roll snake eyes. A good pilot, who prepared, was careful, and didn't take things for granted. And it didn't matter, as some of them have said, "he touched the face of God and God touched him back and kept him".

There's an old saying in the Army, that the Vietnam vets taught me, "It's better to be lucky than skilled because one day you'll run out of skill". They had plenty of stories of guys that were successfully moving in on the bad guys only to jump into a shell hole for cover and have another shell land on them. And more recently with Lex, he ran out of everything, including luck.

Another thing is that his legacy is for us to go out and blog. To pass along that light that we shared in his community. Several have commented that with Lex gone, the magic is gone and we are likely to scatter. Several of us have decided to blog on and take that challenge. Several, this site included, were dusty and cobwebbed sites with little or no recent posts. But we see it as our job to take up that torch, to keep it lit, to go out and light up the dark corners of the Internet. To do what we can to fulfill the promise of blogging as Lex did so well.

Given his ability, it's a daunting task. It's a herculean task to write, then write again. And again. And again. He did so daily, several times daily, while in the military, while transitioning to a new career, while working on his post-graduate degree. Many of us have trouble doing so a couple of times a week, let alone daily. Lex wrote well, very well. I don't know about the others, but I feel like I'm writing using my feet and doing so in Sanskrit. It doesn't flow, it isn't natural, it's painful to do. I get lucky and my muse kicks in and then we're off to the races. Except for when it doesn't.

Number One Daughter helps me tremendously, I owe a large part of any skill that I have to her coaching me while I've been doing my post-graduate work. Soon to be finished. She walks that fine line between trying to help her Dad and not hurting his feelings. And she's been very patient with me, a gift of her mother.

 So, we're going out and trying our best. It's another way to deal with our grief and try to honor a man we miss and held in high esteem. We are part of his legacy, graduates of Lex's School of Blogalism, sometimes sans the talent, sometimes with some modicum of talent. But we know what it looks like when it's done correctly and we owe the world to try.

 marcus erroneous


  1. Marcus E, if you teach them well, equip them for the journey and have the strength to let them go, I think you've done all you can.

    31 years of dealing with death and destruction in my career taught me the very same thing those Vietnam Vets passed on. In my final year in the job I found myself in the traffic division - `pretty tame` I thought, after years in tactical firearms ops. - not so! 21 files of fatal motorcycle accidents crossed my desk in that time and having studied them all I could not find one where I could, hand on heart, say `This guy was really unlucky`, for they had all contributed to their own demise.

    When I taught my two to drive I hammered home what was, to them, the boring stuff but once they got out on the road they found the rest easy. My firearms instructors were ex SF - `train hard, fight easy`.

    As for practising what I preach, I still take training on the bike from time to time to maintain `the edge`. But like you and the wise Vets said, I still like to be lucky.

    I really rate your post. It let me take a closer peek. You're one of the good guys.

  2. Hogday,
    You're right. We say here that God gives them to us for 18 years and then we have to let them go. I always tried to keep in mind that one day we won't be there to help them and that if they can't fend for themselves, then we have failed them. It made some days a bit easier.

    I believe having careers that allow you to see life as it is helps with raising children. We raise them for the world that is, not the one that we wish existed. I count myself as a romantic, I wish and try for a better world, for you cannot do if you do not try. But I try not to fool myself about how it is.

    Thank you, you're kind.

    marcus erroneous

  3. It's hard to reconcile Lex the man with Lex the unlucky pilot. It is grotesque to think that he died, doing what he loved, due to a stupid weather accident. This man, who gave so much to so many for so little, died due to ... weather.

    The ultimate uncontrollable event visited on someone who worked so hard to be able to answer to every situation.

    And yes it reminds us all that life is, as they say, short. It's just a damn shame that so many people figure that out too late. I hope I'm not one of them; working on it.


  4. Life feels very temporary to me at times. I think my Mother worries about me with it. Unlike you and my Dad (retired Navy, Vietnam era), I haven't had to deal with the death of young people. I deal with the elderly and mostly you can rationalize it that 'they lived a good life' no matter how empty the feeling.

    But still, because of my being around it to the degree I am, life feels temporary because rarely do I expect it. I'm standing in my kitchen preparing breakfast for my kids, the phone rings, and Boom my mother in law is dead.

    Lex's has been more of a struggle than the others. My Mom had to explain that to my Dad. "She's not used to young people dying."

    I've had more of an overwhelming thought of the temporariness of it all the last 10 days. I, like you, have teenagers. And there has been more worry recently. Your post hammers home it's probably the loss of Lex that has done it.

    1. Bou,

      It is, unfortunately, temporary. So, I love the sunrise, the sunset, and when she was still at home, watching my daughter sleep. Or my son laugh. Unfortunately (sort of), my teenagers have grown and gone. As you can see though, I remember a lot of it as if it were yesterday. Occasionally my niece and nephew come up to stay with their empty-nester aunt and uncle, though we have no idea why. For that time we have teenagers again and love it. The teenage years really are the best of times and the worst of times. But that's a whole other post. This post of yours is some of the final inspiration that I needed for the post that I just finished. I now realize that it will be an arc. I love your blog.

      marcus erroneous

  5. Bou, I believe that `Nirvana`, Val Halla, etc is now.