A boy recently fell into a zoo gorilla enclosure. This did not happen on Chappy — we have had neither zoos nor gorillas since the early seventies - but I find the story to be an interesting Chappy allegory. As I understand the story, the boy fell into the gorilla’s house while being relatively unattended by his parents. Once in the gorilla’s living room, the boy was quickly more attended to by the primate. There are conflicting opinions as to whether the gorilla was protecting the boy, or had more nefarious intentions. Being somewhat unpredictable in nature (being nature’s way), the gorilla’s intentions were difficult to discern. So, erring on the side of the boy’s life, the gorilla was shot and killed.

Some say that this shooting of the gorilla was an overreaction and that the boy could have been extracted in another fashion, but I say that the gorilla’s fate was sealed the moment the boy entered his life. Nature and people don’t mix particularly well when their combination has the potential for combustion — often one must be eradicated for the survival of the other. And nature rarely, if ever, wins. On Chappy, like the at the Cincinnati Zoo, we do just fine with the flow and fauna, provided we are not too closely situated nor are we in competition for the same resources. Once we do compete however, Chappy rarely comes out on top. The ivy, the deer, the pitch pines, the skunks, the swallows, the sand, the water are all our ultimate subjects — we will assert our dominance should the need arise. This subjection of nature is not an indictment of humans but rather an unavoidable consequence of our mingling. Once we enter into nature’s realm uninvited, the question becomes less about whether we will impact its existence, and more about how we administer that impact.

My elder brother Kent passed away two weeks ago Saturday. Death should never come as a complete surprise to anyone, but its arrival is nevertheless a shock, and quite unwelcome. Perhaps someone far smarter than I will someday come up with a mathematical equation that adequately displays the meaning of loss, but there will never be a language to describe the feeling. I have lost my brother; my parents their son, and no matter how diligently we search, he will not be found. But I do hope to remember and to be reminded — in a passing cloud, in a red breasted bird. Life continues, and in it there will always be vestiges of Kent’s being.

Kent was an unavoidably likable person. He asked so little of anyone in any relationship that one felt always at ease with him. Kent required no special attention or entertainment — he was perfectly pleased simply to be near. He didn’t cuss at other drivers. He hardly ever raised his voice, the (very) noticeable exception being during Patriots games. He was passionate, but quietly so. He loved deeply and peacefully. He will be so missed.

We have unwillingly joined the fraternity of grievers. There is some comfort in the company, but mostly only in the sad knowingness of hugs.

We all enter into this contract of life, perhaps with varying degrees of willingness, but with a clear understanding of the small print — there will be an end. For me. For you. For him. For her. And though we accept somewhat our vampire’s existence of outliving several beloved pets, no parent expects or accepts the outliving of their child. So I offer a prayer (or a thought for those that find prayer impractical) to my mother particularly, but also mother and fathers everywhere — may you find peace and joy in the memory of persistent happiness that your life brought forth.

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