The last few days have been unlike any I can remember. I guess Iíve never grieved a stranger.
But, then again, I guess Iíve struggled with the passing of Graeme Turnbull because he wasnít really a stranger. He was a Dawg brother, a kinsman as only the red and black can make us, a friend by way of this wonderful and maddening community we all love for one reason or another. Some days I love to hate it. Some days I hate to love it. But in the end the love prevails, like I said, for one reason or another. Ghost was one of the reasons.
I was busy Tuesday, so I didnít check the DawgVent until well into the afternoon, very unusual for me. When I did, my heart fell. On one hand, deep in the back of my all-too-human mind, it didnít surprise me. I remembered all the posts over the years alluding to his ďdemonsĒ and apparent disappearances from the board for some kind of recovery. I remembered his own posts celebrating a hard-charging lifestyle. So, in that way, Iím never surprised when the hottest of comets suddenly goes black. But on the other hand, Iím always floored when a 34-year-old man is dead. Thatís a heavy word, dead.
Maybe itís just me and my quiet love affair with this place--my own private addiction--but I cared what Ghost had to say. Just like I do so many others whom I donít know--Hack, Roe, Savannah, Kathy Sue, Tursiops, DawgFaced Gremlin, ParadiseVendor, TCDevilDawg, jasons, Potimus Willie, Captain, atco, KeithRichards, lowcountry, BeachDawg, KeyStone, RoyDawgMercer, 10,000 Islands, UGABEN1, Canada, IBDawfan82, Chardog, maugwa, Kincaid82, Boost Assendahm, FivePoints, and Baron, an on and on go my anonymous friends. Some I line up with. Some are just too dadgum liberal. But I do care about every one of them, and more than just in a wireless kind of way. Itís strange, but upon learning Ghost had died I swear I felt the similar twinge of disbelief you feel when you learn someone like Elvis or Michael Jackson died. In a not-so-small way, Ghost was a celebrity in the world at my fingertips.
Iíve surprised myself a little. On this one, I can honestly say I havenít had to battle my usual fleshly thinking and start trying to ascribe blame for his death. Sure, I had my immediate thoughts because itís easy to judge and chalk up another premature death to stupid choices. Maybe that was the case here. Maybe it was just cumulative, and a strong body finally gave way. It doesnít really matter. The point is I havenít dwelt on the whats and whys nearly as much as Iíve simply mulled the loss. The suddenness. The finality. Maybe lifestyle had nothing to do with it. Donít know. What I do know is that I grieve a stranger and I hurt for a family and for his friends, and this darned thing has bothered me more than I ever conceived it could have. What I do know is that a young man with gifts and wit and charm and P-A-S-S-I-O-N is gone. These are the ones we notice, arenít they? When someone has so much to bring to the table--even when they bring it in the wrong way or for the wrong reasons--and now their place setting is unattended, the void is remarkable. A keyboard in Atlanta lays forever quiet--and we all, every one us--hears the silence.
I donít believe in being larger than life. Life is too big for that. I know this because I believe in an Author of life, and it doesnít get any bigger than Him. Iím a minister, so bear with me whatever your belief or unbelief. Part of these unsettling hours, frankly, has been my concern over Graemeís spiritual condition. Did he know the Lord? Where is he now? I grapple with this stuff because I care. I do remember his referencing ďthe Good Lord.Ē I hope there was a time when he bowed to the risen King and asked Christ to forgive his sins and pull him from a pit we all deserve. I hope Graeme tasted that grace.
And I do hope that the sudden death of a 34-year-old man with seemingly more passion than a thousand men stokes the spiritual questions in us all. I hope God uses this to make someone somewhere look deep into his or her heart and take stock. Do you know that you know that you know what will happen when itís your time? Are you just guessing? Are you ready? Or are you full of questions? The only thing that is at stake is eternity. Thatís all.
I scrolled through thread after thread last night, taking far more time than I ever thought I would to reflect on a young man I never really knew. Whatever his frailties, he was somebodyís son. He was somebodyís brother. He was somebodyís love. He was a lot of folksí friend. I watched K94LIFEís video tribute and read the great story in his other pushpin. For the first time, I went to Graemeís Facebook page. I spent close to two hours just reading about Ghost, this alternately hilarious and inciting of posters, this most passionate of Dawgs, this hottest of comets that suddenly went black across the great DawgVent expanse.
Funny thing about comets. The rest of us ordinary earthlings have to look up to see them. And they always leave the longest of trailsÖ.
May the Lord Jesus bless the Turnbulls, Graemeís loved ones, and his DawgVent family.