On October 16, Chris Brown died in Xalapa of hepatitis C. He had it for a long time, but nonetheless lived a good and active life. We were shocked and discovered we were also very sad. I had never met Chris personally, though I'm sure I saw him at various places. Nonetheless we considered each other friends, and friends of long standing, communicating by email and via our blogs. From his blog, you can get a real sense of this man with his curiosity and sense of purpose and decency. It's worth reading to learn about an expat in our area who lived an exemplary ex-pat life. He traveled and worked his land and was a good neighbor and friend to people who needed him. Children around his terreno became his frequent, rambunctious and devoted helpers. He detailed his mundane labors to turn his plot into his garden and home so well that I looked forward to each new installment as if he were writing serial.
Jim and Chris shared a dentist, a prosthodontist, named Edgard Hernández Guitiérrez, himself a very interesting man. Yesterday we went to visit him because he is doing work on Jim. I wasn't sure he would even remember Chris, but he did. He too was clearly shocked and distressed by the news. Like others whose comments I've read and heard, he remembered Chris as a good and gentle person. No more will they bump into each other at the same club to listen to music.
Death seems to swirl about us here, more part of our lives than in the US. It often seems to me that I can sense in scattered moments whisps and puffs of it. Death feeds our lives and our lives feed death. It is terribly sad to lose someone. That death is woven into our lives so clearly here makes the losses both more melancholy and more ordinary. It seems to me that it is not ghosts which inhabit the world with us but some sort of smokey energy that drifts through the trees and rides the ripples of the rivers and streems and slides along the breezes and it works to churn the dying plants back into earth.
Sometimes I do get a sense of a presence, an indigena suddenly materializing and just as suddenly gone, or a long-dead Spaniard. Or the woman up the street who died of diabetes or Santiago on our block. This place we live is crowded with life and death. We are all in it together