I was laying in bed with a friend having a tipsy chat (I was sober, he was drunk, so I figure it evens out to tipsy), and we started reminiscing about the Oregon Trail game we all played in grade school.
Quickly and simply, he said something along the lines of, "everyone gets dysentery and dies." It was true and funny, but for some reason this drunk musing stuck in my head all weekend. Life is a miracle and all that shit, but in the end, you get wiped out by something you didn't see coming. Buffalo stampede, smallpox, dysentery, etc. On a more serious note, it made me think of my friend Mikey who passed away a few months ago. He was walking in a safe, well known residential neighborhood in the evening, when a random person came up to him outside an apartment complex, shot him once, and left him to die.
Just a few days before, he was making the final preparations to visit his parents across the country, who he hadn't seen in years. Instead, his parents had to make the trek to Portland for his memorial.
You can't prepare for things like this. You know that eventually we're all going to go one day, but it's not something you want to give any thought. No one saw this coming or could even fathom such a thing. Those following months were so hard, because it felt like all these awful events kept happening. People were breaking up, getting sick, falling into depression-fueled black holes. But eventually, things started to settle down and life slowly started cycling back up on the bell curve. Things felt back to normal again.
It's so strange to think that something like the Oregon Trail game reminded me that we have the luxury to make choices in our life. Choices that can affect everything that comes after, and can determine if we live fully and graciously, much like Mikey did.
Michael Olson was from Indiana and moved to Oregon with at least a dozen friends in tow. He fucking made it.