Lots of sad news this week: Wednesday, we learned that a wonderful musician and friend, drummer Steve Sykes, passed away Monday after a rough struggle with cancer. Steve was a tremendously musical player, and his creativity on the drums put him on a short list of guys to call for small-combo gigs. He was a really sweet guy to boot, and devoted to his family. He will definitely be missed.
On the heels of that news (literally, that evening), I was had been shaken awake by the small earthquake we had the other night, and on a whim I looked up the website of magazine where one of my scuba industry colleagues was the associate publisher. There, I learned that another old friend, Shawn Beaty, had been killed in a house fire in 2005. I had worked with Shawn and her husband Jerry at two different companies while they were manufacturers' representatives, and although I didn't keep in touch very closely after I left the industry, I knew that they had joined the Dive Training organization and were doing very well. Making matters infinitely worse was the further revelation that this appears not to have been an accident; it seems that her death has been ruled a homicide, but no arrests had been made and authorities have no solid leads. Having known Jerry and Shawn well for several years, I can't even imagine what dealing with this has been like for him... to lose a spouse like that must be indescribable. Inept as I am about stuff like this, I'm stuck wondering whether to get in touch, or what I would say if I did. I don't know if there's anything meaningful I could say at all.
With all this fresh in my mind, the bizarre double-murder/suicide that took place a few blocks away (I was headed off to a rehearsal just as the neighborhood was being besieged with police and the media) was just enough to make me think, WTF? Maybe it's that I live a somewhat insulated existence the rest of the time, but geez... It also has me on a bit of a self-reproach jag; I wonder if I really do deserve to have such a satisfying life when people around me are suffering. I know it's an irrational line of thought, but all this is really pretty weird. Not sure what else to do except not take life for granted.