Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Wise Aunt Talks to Her Niece about Death

Maria visited Trisha, her teenaged niece, whose friend had died in a tragic car accident. She found her sleeping on a towel in her backyard. Here is a segment of that conversation...

“I’m terribly sorry about your friend. I’m afraid I don’t remember his name.”

Tears formed in Trisha’s eyes. “Mac. His name was Mac.” She wiped her eyes and then said, “Actually, his name was Coker McCoy. But he hated the name Coker, so everybody called him Mac.”

“How long did you know him?”

“A couple years. He was the bass player in Michael’s band. He was a friend.”

“So you liked him?”

“I knew him. I hung out sometimes when they were practicing. Actually, he was kind of a jerk.”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, he was joking around all the time. He was so full of himself. He wasn’t very nice to me. He didn’t care much for people who couldn’t play. He wasn’t considerate, like Michael. I think he considered me some kind of groupie or something. The nicest thing he ever did was to offer me a drag on a marijuana cigarette.”

“Oh my,” said Maria. “Did you try it?”


“Why not?”

“You know I don’t smoke, Aunt Maria. It seemed unsanitary, and I didn’t like the idea of getting high. Of losing control. Besides, I’m an athlete. I know some of my friends are trying things. But it’s just peer pressure, kids trying to be cool. I don’t need any of that. Besides, I’m afraid I’d get addicted to alcohol or drugs or something. It’s all craziness, Aunt Maria.”

“Those are good instincts.”

“Anyway, it gave him another reason to poke fun at me.”

“But his death has affected you. You miss him, don’t you?”

“I don’t know. Sort of. It’s hard to think of him as dead. One day he’s jamming with the guys, having fun. He was supposed to graduate from high school in a few days. And now he’s gone. He doesn’t exist anymore.”

The two of them sat in silence. It was springtime, and gusts of wind rolled in to shake the trees.

“He was a senior,” said Trisha. “I don’t know what he was planning to do. I just assumed he would stay with the band. Get gigs around Austin.”

“You never know how things will work out. One thing leads to another, and you can walk down a new path. Who knows where he would have ended up. I once knew a guy in college who was a football player on special teams at U.T. I always thought of him as kind of an over-sexed brute. But you know what happened to him? He started making straight A’s during his junior and senior years, and he went to med school. Now he’s a big deal plastic surgeon out in L.A.”


“So you never know. Mainly, people do what they care about and actions have consequences. Speaking of which, do you know anything about the accident?”

Trisha sighed. “According to some of the kids at school, he was out whooping it up with friends. He was kind of a rebel and into all the bad stuff—tobacco, alcohol, drugs, you name it. Anyway, he got drunk, and I guess he was speeding on the way home. He was going too fast for a turn and the car left the road. He flipped over a couple times. No seat belt. That’s pretty much it.”

“That reminds me of the toothpicks.”

“What? Toothpicks?”

“Do you remember when I put the toothpicks end to end on the table to represent a human life span?”

“Oh yeah.”

“There were only ten. No one knows when their end will come or how long they’ll live. Mac’s life ended on the second toothpick. He was careless and made some bad choices and suffered the terrible consequences. He threw the rest of his life away.”

There's more to this conversation, and more to the story, which is told in Conversations with the Wise Aunt, a book my wife and I wrote for teen girls.

For teen boys - Conversations with the Wise Uncle

Another excerpt from a conversation between Maria and her niece, Trisha...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength .

No comments: