There's nothing more surreal than opening up your email in the morning and finding a message that says "I am sorry to report that Professor Deb Kaplan died in her sleep last night..." and then coming to school and seeing this on the front page of our school's daily newspaper. I've seen her twice a week the last 7 weeks as she was the prof for a foundation theory class all the entering graduate students take together. I almost feel like I'm watching all this happen as an outsider...the emails, the flowers, the grad students camped outside her door chatting and writing messages on colored paper to tape to her door, all the counseling and memorials our wonderful department chair and admin are organizing in one short day. It's like seeing it happen on TV. It's weird to think that someone you saw alive and well 6 days ago is suddenly not here. I realized I actually haven't had someone I see so regularly die before, not since high school when a number of my classmates got in fatal car accidents. I mean there were grandparents I saw very rarely and acquaintances I didn't know well, but definitely nothing this unexpected.
Aside from all this it also makes me wonder what "died in her sleep" means. Is that a euphemism? Is it really as painless, peaceful, and instantaneous as it sounds? People always say there's no better way to go but I always wonder if it really is as pleasant as it sounds. We're really not sure what the natural causes are since that covers a whole lot of stuff. I am pretty sure there were some underlying causes and things didn't just stop working (I think that only happens when you're really elderly) but still it reminds you just how fragile life is. I'm glad she got news of a book deal recently. I hope that she talked to some good friends, did something enjoyable, and had some nice meals last week. Makes me sort of think of things that you need to remember to do on a regular basis just in case your time comes unexpectedly. Talk to people, make time to do things that are fun, eat well, don't waste time stressing out or being a grumpy selfish asshole.