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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Thrilled by death's demography

Some weeks back, in the throes of the Mongolian elections, I caught myself walking the empty evening hallways of our Ulaanbaatar offices relieved that the dead man was Filipino.  And relieved that he died in his sleep.

I was, for a moment, that person who forgets what loss means, and so had lost myself.

I manage communications for a mining company.  Slow news days are good days.  When I heard someone died at the mine site, my first two thoughts were, "How did he die?" and "Where was he from?"

The best outcome for the head of communications would be a death from natural causes, in bed, with no-one else around.  Even better would be a foreigner -- meaning anyone not Mongolian.  A foreigner's quiet, unremarkable death would pass virtually unreported.  A Mongolian death, under any circumstances, would be fodder for speculative conspiracy stories for days, maybe weeks.  A death on the job would shake the organisation to its core and raise plenty of questions about international expertise and standards: purported benefits that come from working with a big, global mining company.

The middle-aged Filipino man had a heart condition.  He was simply still and cold in the morning, when his friends came to rouse him.

And I felt super.  Dodged a bullet and all that.  It took me longer than I like to admit to focus on the other part of his story.

That there was a woman in the Philippines who last saw him get on a plane to Mongolia to go to work, and who would never see him again.  That he would never again see or hear or smell home, and the people who loved him enough to make it his home could never say goodbye.  That his last day had nothing in common with any of the ways he might have imagined it: among mostly strangers, in a strange place, with not even a morgue in which to lay waiting for what would come next.

My team and I took a moment's silence in our morning meeting, the following day.  Because he was one of us.  And, even more, because he was someone else's.


Comments on "Thrilled by death's demography"


Blogger Sharon Varallo said ... (11:59 PM) : 

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