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It is.. very cold here, I could see my forced breath in the air as I walked alone, always alone. It was almost biting, the way I had to pull my jacket close around me (as the zipper has been broken for some time), I suppose it was just a reminder wasn't it? You'll throw at me whatever it is you know I truly want and that is what I wanted, I know it is, I wanted to walk in the cold and feel, just feel something, intensely.

I've a thing with the way poplar leaves flutter and there was one such tree at the beginning of the darkening, beautifully haunting path (it is this way solely in the evenings when the leetle bats swoop quietly overhead). I'd failed to notice it there, up until tonight. I stood completely still but for blinking eyes, and looked up at it, watched the leaves and my breath.. thought maybe it was meant as a way to console, comfort the disheartening thoughts I've been having all day and especially this evening. It didn't work, I remember thinking before I realized that I hadn't wanted it to comfort me in the slightest. The leaves were almost brittle from the cold and seemed more to clash against eachother rather than flutter and flow in dreamy little ripples.

The overwhelming doubt tends to subside at the point when it is realized that it existed only because I'd wanted it to, and for no other reason. The doubt is something to hold onto because everything else is so fickle, so frail, it could cease to be just as easily as it might have started. It's not something I want to hold onto, though.. and it was abandoned just then under the tree, in the cold where I was so alone and finally I knew that there is no way around possible failure of any one thing, but assuming that nothing will ever be as it should is not the way I'd like to spend my living time in the universe.
My younger brother's best friend died my senior year of high school. He was 16.

It was the strangest thing. He didn't drink, he didn't smoke pot or do any other drugs. He didn't drive crazy (hell, he'd gotten his licence less than a year before). He didn't do any of the things that the after school specials tell you to avoid if you want to live.

He just played sports. And he loved them.

Joel was in baseball, basketball, soccer, and track. Strangely, it was track, the least potentially lethal sport of the three, that led to his death.

Joel was a pole vaulter. A somewhat dangerous event, but certainly not lethal. One day, at practice, he jumped, his head jerked at a weird angle, and then he fell just outside of the mats. Although everyone was worried, nobody considered it anything too outside of the normal events in a track setting. Then, one of his teammates noticed that he wasn't breathing.

Seth (a friend of mine's cousin) gave him CPR and held Joel's hand until the paramedics came, repeating over and over again, "It's gonna be ok, Joel ..."

He was wrong.

Joel was snapped into a coma in the middle of his jump, in midair. His neck snapped and his nervous system was so damaged that he was nothing more than a vegetable.

After three days of cerebral inactivity, Joel's mother had the life support pulled, saying that Joel never would have wanted to live that way. And she was right.

At Joel's funeral, an older woman, probably a member of his church, walked up to my brother, my stoic little brother who was so sad that he couldn't do anything but cry, and said, "It's ok, honey ... he's with God now."

My brother, a fairly religious person, looked up through his tears and glared at the woman. "What kind of fucking God would take one of the most wonderful people I know? What kind of God would let JOEL die?"

He stopped going to church that day.

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