Dear Mr. President,
My Grandfather passed away today. He was almost 89 years old. He served his country in World War II, raised 5 children, lived to see his first great-grandchild, and, even just a few years ago, could beat my sister handily on the tennis court. His ashes will be scattered in Florida, the place he was undoubtedly the happiest, and, if there is any afterlife, he is happily reunited with my grandmother. Theirs was the family's one love story, a brief courtship followed by a wedding and a long deployment. When the war ended they were together until her death, six years ago, and my Grandfather never loved anyone else.
I did not know him well, but I believe he was a good man. He lived a continent away, but when I look back on the crowd of hands that have held me up and gently pushed me onward, his is undoubtedly among them. He barely knew my sisters and I, but every month while we were in college he sent us $25, which he insisted that we spend, not on books or bills or anything sensible, but on something fun. (I confess, sometimes groceries were fun.) I was never as thankful as I ought to have been, but I hope he knew my gratitude. He was stubborn and funny and totally independent. He lived well, and I am glad, for his sake, that death found him before he suffered.
I don't feel particularly sad, to be honest. My Grandpa lived a long, respectable life, had a loving family, and died a quiet death. This is certainly more than is promised to any one. I don't think I've contemplated death much more or less than any other 24 year old, but I know it has never frightened me. It is all any of us is owed, without exception. As dazzlingly complex as life on this planet may seem at times, every one succumbs to the forces of entropy, and, at the end, we are all the same. Walking home tonight, I felt oddly close to every one, from the tired bus driver, to the tribe of punks drinking and smoking in their back yard, even to Presidents and rich oil executives, because I am reminded that when our unique stories end, when the trigger is pulled or the breaks fail or the organs shut down, the same night awaits us all. And I believe it is peaceful, and beautiful, and calm.