Sunday, July 15, 2007


Sometime last year i received a call a from a person i have known all my life, but that i rarely see. He is the son of a friend of my parents and someone i grew up with. Bryan was calling to tell me that another son of another friend of my parents had been killed in a car accident. Marcus was also the brother of a troubled friend of mine.

"Oh my God!" i said, and like many shocked people, i added, "what happened?"

"Well, the police don't really know," Bryan answered.

hmmm, i thought, that sounds odd, but whatever.

I went to the funeral, not out of any personal sense of loss, but out of loyalty for old relationships and family ties. I saw and comforted my used-to-be friend.

A few months ago, i happened to be reading an article in the paper about the aftermath of someone who had been hit, and very seriously injured, by drunken driver. That driver was Marcus.

I've been muddling this over in my mind for a while, sorting out how i feel. Now i know. I am angry with Marcus. I see the illogic of this. Marcus' family was no less sad for him than if he had been sober. His two young boys and his wife are still without him. I am not sorry i donated money to an account for the boys. I am not sorry i went to the funeral.

But i am still angry. I feel like we were not told the complete truth, because it reflected badly on Marcus.

I don't know what i would have liked to have seen happen instead. The funeral was not the appropriate time to bring this up. But Marcus almost killed another person, and did kill himself.

I wonder what chance for a lesson was lost in this subterfuge. I wonder how that lesson could have been presented. Perhaps something could have been said about the man that Marcus almost killed, asking for help for him.

It's all such a damned waste.


Andrea Frazer said...

That really is a waste. I am sorry for everyone involved. I try hard to be non-judgemental, but if some drunk hit my kid I would go so more postal than a mailman at Christmas.

Stucco said...

There is a weird psychological phenomenon where people are afraid to speak badly of the dead. I don't suffer from this malady- a dead asshole is still an asshole. Once I'm taking the big dirt nap, feel free to speak of me as you please. That hang up is ridiculous.

SUEB0B said...

Yes, sad.

Girlplustwo said...

a gigantic waste. and shame is a powerful motivator..makes us hide all kinds of stuff, doesn't it?

meno said...

mamap, in this case, i think we were all trying a little too hard to be non-judgemental. I'm with you on the postal thing.

stucco, ain't that the truth. Remember when "Saint Nixon" died? Sheesh!

suebob, and stupid, and wrong and....

jen, i don't know what i would have done differently if i had known at the time. I suspected, but no one would talk.

Lynn said...

It really was a waste...thank God that Marcus didn't kill the other person too.

Voyager said...

A sad waste indeed.

Liv said...

A terrible waste...and I think there's also a little sting of being lied to. Almost because of the way it makes you feel.

QT said...

Good PR involves admitting wrongdoing and outlining the steps for making it right.

It was tragic, but the details should not have been hidden from everyone, I agree with you.

Thank God there was only one life lost.

alphawoman said...

I imagine they were very ashamned. My husbands nephew overdosed and died five years ago, in total grief (he lingered fir two days in an artificial state on breathing machines etc...he was brain dead)his parents allowed every single teenage kid who came to the ICU unit to stand by his bed and look at what drugs really mean. I guess what I am saying is that people are all over the charts with the way they deal and react to tradegy.

ms chica said...

Here, we call this the Saint Arley syndrome, named for my spouse's former father in-law. My other half had the misfortune of witnessing several saints rise form the ashes of death. You already know how I feel about denial...It doesn't re-write history. I'm sorry you and a cast of dozens were mislead and denied the truth.

Airam said...

You're right. It is a waste.

Anonymous said...

I think the grieving family missed an opportunity by sweeping this under the carpet.


Bob said...

I expect they were ashamed. (I would be) could be they are dealing with their loss and on top of that wondering if they are to blame for not knowing about or not preventing this behavior. it isn't an easy thing to deal with, most people would duck, I think.

will some tact and delicacy they could have dealt with it during the funeral service.

Anonymous said...

We as humans have so many complex, convoluted, unhealthy means of shaping reality to suit ourselves that frankly if I believed in an afterlife I'd have a long chat with Gawd about revoking that arrangement just to see what else people would make up to comfort their own pained existences.


thailandchani said...

Well, gosh. I believe the funeral was probably not the place to raise that issue since it is a ritual intended for comforting each other.

At the same time, they could have mentioned it in another setting and use it as a lesson for others. There's still time.



Unknown said...

Funerals are for the living, not the dead. It probably would have been very hard for the family to acknowledge what had actually happened, but maybe it would have been much healthier. Who knows? It was sad all around. If the family NEVER talks about it- then that would be a serious problem.

Dick said...

I have said for a long time that we really need to get tougher with drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders. I think the reason our legislators are reluctant to do so is that they are regular offenders themselves and they don't want to get caught up in tougher laws. It seems like I recently saw that DWI will now be treated as a felony rather than just a traffic offense. I think it should be assault with a deadly weapon and if a death resulted, then second degree murder. I don't know if the person you referred to was a repeater or not but most of them are, even if they have not yet been caught & convicted.

TTQ said...

A key point, you said you suspected. I'm sure many others did as well. As somebody else commented the funeral is for the living. The saying "more will be revealed later" comes to mind. Perhaps the toxicology report hadn't been confirmed at the time of the funeral? Now that the funeral is over, it's a prime chance for the family to make amends to the other family. How? I'm not sure. But you are right it's a damn shame and a damn waste.
An we do need to work harder on keeping drunk drivers off the roads. Repeat offenders without licenses are a dime a dozen.

Lynnea said...

You know, one time I was reading the obits in the newspaper and noticed that a family put mention of something like this there. They mentioned the tragedy and then asked for donations to an organization like MAD or something like that. I thought that was rather brave of them and in this instance that you are talking about would be a great way to mend the fence so to speak.

Its like memories isn't it? Well directly linked really. But what I mean is that when we look back on lean years or something like that we often see them as lighter and easier than they were at the time. When someone dies we do the same, we tend to only recall the positive stuff.

amusing said...

It would have been interesting to see the family dynamic behind the planning. There may have been argument, discussion about what would be said, how it would be said. Someone who holds top rank in the family decided nothing would be said. Too bad those who might have dissented didn't figure out a way sneak it in there.

Biscotto said...

I critique funerals and I will deduct points if nothing negative is said about the dead person. It is better to mourn the whole person than it is to mourn just the good parts, that is what I think. And besides acknowledging the weaknesses makes the strengths looks so much better.

No matter what the circumstances, you shouldn't judge a whole life on its last moments, not if it is a deathbed conversion of an asshole into a generous protector of the poor and disadvantaged, not if it is a good man who drove drunk once and didn't live to regret it.

Oh, unless we are talking about the guy who died on the guillotine to save the husband of the woman that he loved in Tale of Two Cities. You can judge HIS whole life on that moment, but only because Dickens is a wickedly good storyteller.

So, tell us, did the guy drink often? Had it happened before? Did he refuse to take responsibility for his life, his actions, his endangerment of others? Was he stupid or smart? Earnest or sarcastic? Loving or nasty? Did he love his wife or did he love someone else's wife more? Was he a good friend when his friends were out of luck, or did he kick dogs when he thought no one was looking?

Chances are, of course, that he was somewhere in the middle, like the rest of us. There is one white, one black, but there are an infinite number of shades of gray. Look closer and see if you can figure out where this guy fell on the pyramid of tints and shades. Was he darkish or pearlish or bluish or ashy or phosphorescent? It shouldn't be too hard to find out because it is the backround of the stories that people tell about him.

Here, I'll say it shorter and better:

Judge his life, not his death.

And don't judge his family, either. Death makes people weird.

urban-urchin said...

his poor family. I'm sorry for them.

Anonymous said...

I understand why you're angry. I think I'd be angry too - even if he just had a lucky escape I'd be furious if I found out that someone I knew had been stupid enough to drive whilst drunk. I also understand why nobody said anything though. As someone else said earlier, the funerals are for the living. I don't know, but I imagine, that the circumstances of his death must have made it harder for his loved ones to deal with.

flutter said...

That is a huge damned waste.

meno said...

lynn, while it's true that Marcus didn't kill the man, he was still recovering from his injuries a year later.

voyager, sickeningly sad.

liv, it was a lie of omission, but a lie nonetheless.

qt, it would have been a powerful reminder for us all.

alphawoman, how i admire those parents.

ms.chica, St. Arley Syndrome. I will be using that in the future. Let's rename it Arley Saint Syndrome, and use the acronym.

airam, something to keep in mind. It could be us.

de, that's my thought too.

bob, Marcus was close to 50, both his parents and his sister are addicts, so i doubt if they were in any shape to help him. I doubt if they changed anything because of this either.

irrelephant, i will sign your petition too.

chani, to be fair, maybe they did. Although i doubt it.

wng, i wonder if they could have asked people at the funeral to send good thoughts or pray or something for the other man. Wouldn't that have been classy?

dick, i don't know if he was a repeater. As i said, i had not seen any of these people in several years. And i agree with you.

ttq, it's pretty unpleasant to get caught, at least in this state, but that doesn't stop many people.

maggie, i don't know if we don't recall it, or if we just choose to forget it. It makes it easier to remember only the easy stuff.

amusing, i would hazard a guess that nobody dissented. Just a guess, but they all have substance abuse issues too.

biscotto, i can only tell you what he was like as a boy and then as a young man. I hadn't seen him in 15 to 20 years. He was funny and mean and sarcastic and quirky, and the least fucked up member of his family. When someone goes out in a blaze of spectacular stupidity, it's hard not to focus on that. i would say he was medium brown.

u-u, i cut off ties with them years ago, and so i really have no business barging in with my opinion. But it's hard not to feel the waste.

platypus, if he had still been alive, i would be even madder, because then i could express it. It's unsatisfying to be angry at the dead.

flutter, i know his wife and kids think so too.

Sonia Wetzel Photography said...

I believe you hit the nail on the head....that the lesson that was lost was a chance to ask for help for the person Marcus almost killed. I am very hard headed about folks wasting an opportunity to help someone else because they're trying to cover up the reason for the accident. Especially when it revolves around drinking and driving. I too, would be angry.

Mother of Invention said...

It is a waste and what goes around sort of came back around, although this is of no consolation to the other victim.
I can't really think of how they could have politely have people know except word of mouth as did happen anyway, probably the way you found out. Would it have evened any score? Does anyone do a grand tally here or in any hereafter? Who's to know...we can believe what makes us feel better about it, I suppose.

I know a guy who is so dishonest and so far he gets away with everything he tries to pull. It so pisses me off, especially when his fiance knows nothing of what he's done in his life. One almost wants him to get caught or have something happen to him.....people love that he has to pay for his dishonesty at Conrad Black..they love to see a huge icon and snob fall hard. Just human nature.

egan said...

What a horrible place to be as a friend/acquaintance to Marcus' family. I bet I heard about this report on the news. I'm glad the other person didn't lose their life, but .... maybe I should stop typing now. Thanks for sharing Meno.

Special K ~Toni said...

Wow~ I don't know what to say, except to agree- what a waste.

Mrs. Chili said...

I haven't read any comments (well, besides Stucco's - and I have to say I agree, but that's not what I'm here to say): I would feel angry, too. Cheated, almost, out of the truth of the matter. Marcus's funeral WOULD have been an appropriate time, I think, to tell this truth, ESPECIALLY for his children. I'm not saying to cut the man down (i.e. he got what he deserved), but to let the occasion serve as a cautionary tale, and I think that your suggestion of doing something to benefit the person Marcus almost killed is right on.

meno said...

ddm, well hi there! Yes, i see it more clearly now than i did at the time, now that i have more facts.

moi, The more i think about it, the more i think there could have been a way to acknowledge the cause of the accident, and to ask for forgiveness.

egan, this happened in your neck of the woods too, so i would not be surprised if you heard about it, and if you had feelings.

toni, there's not much else to really say about this. Oh wait, maybe there is as we all found lots to say.

mrs.chili, i would have felt much better if i had been given the chance to help the injured man.

Schmoopie said...

This makes me wonder what, if anything, has been done for the family of the injured man. Let's hope the Marcus's family is not in so much denial about what caused his death, that his sons become alcoholics and do the same. When that kind of shit gets swept under the rug, it festers.

Crazed Nitwit said...

If he had been my child or husband I would have apologized at the funeral and said something to the effect Alcohol and driving don't mix. Ever.

But that's just me. I've lost a child to disease and managed to speak at his memorial and thank all those who had helped us during this time.

Sienna said...

I do our family eulogies, write them and read them.

I would have followed Janicenw's thoughts/lead, alcohol and driving please just don't do's so preventable, so easily a decision that should not be on a person's radar...there is a lesson to learn from this person's is such a waste Meno, that and how it affects other innocent lives...sometimes we are hard to understand as an/the? intelligent species Meno.....really hard.


Sienna said...

hey i love the shade of that day lily, ours are not far from flowering month possibly

Unknown said...

I don't usually do this- but I think my blog today dovetails with this pretty well, so check it out if you get the chance.

Susanne said...

Sad for all people involved. And what Liv said.

egan said...

On I-90 right? I think I recall this accident. Hmm... so sad.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to discuss things openly in general, you can imagine that discussion was kept to a minimum by those who were closest to Marcus. It's hard to say why people react the way they do and why they hold onto information as if telling it would kill them. But, try not to be angry, making decisions when in mourning isn't easy.

Scott from Oregon said...

I am with Stucco. The guy fucked up. Talk about it.

Anonymous said...

If someone in that family learns from this, then he has not died in vain. I understand your anger and frustration, though. I bet his family, when they are in private mode, have also gone through countless tears and no end of frustration.

karmic said...

Indeed a waste. Yes they should have been more honest, but when is a good time to do that?

But I hear where you are coming from.