Allow Me to Shoot the Messenger

John has lived in the same house his entire life. He rents the other half of the building out to a man I’ll call Sam. Sam saves the daily papers and gives them to John at the end of the week and I have been taking the opportunity to catch up on the highlights of what’s been happening in my tiny corner of the universe.

Today, two things caught my attention this morning and they were both in the obituaries. The first one was innocent enough, because the name of the person who passed away was the same as a fictional character in a certain fandom that I will avoid mentioning. In that same spirit of respect, I will not mention the name of the second person who caught my attention, but I do feel the need to elaborate.

This person passed away this past week and was only eighteen. That’s sad enough, when you think of the world being a much darker place because of the lifetime of possibility that has now been snuffed out. The thing that makes it even sadder is the fact that he died of a heroin overdose. Since I can’t change minds no matter what I say, all I can tell you is that I am approaching this subject as delicately as possible, because the opening line of this boy’s obituary was obviously not my own.

“His death must not be in vain.”

Reading it, the line seems innocent enough. But if you were to hear the line being read and you knew the kid died of a heroin overdose, your mind probably went to the same place I did. And I’ll admit, if I didn’t know the circumstances, I might have found it to be a hilariously ill chosen play on words.

Give me some credit, please. My first instinct was not to laugh, but to wonder at the odd choice of an opening line so shortly after the line revealing the cause of his death. Was it deliberate, or coincidence? Innocent foot in the mouth, or possibly an attempt to really catch the attention of readers? Maybe the guy had a sense of humor in life and this would have been exactly how he would have written his own obituary.

The world is a funny place. I live comfortably in the knowledge that I was very likely not the only one who came to the same conclusions. And how much worse could it have be knowing that the writer who was paid for this service might have gone there as well?


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