Some people leave world too soon

By Clyde Davis: Columnist

It’s not usually the purpose of this column to raise, nor to attempt to answer, existential questions. I much prefer leaving the great, and unresolvable, issues of life to others with more space and more time.

Like most of us in our contexts, my own life is more consumed with loving and caring for a family, spiritually leading a congregation, and teaching a new crop of freshmen how to write in a way that will help them survive college.

Every once in a while some piece of those three — in this case, the second of the list — brings me face to face with one of those great and chasm-like questions. I am seldom on e-mail late at night, but I recalled something I had forgotten to send out, so logged on to be greeted with a message marked “Sad News” by one of the kids from my greatest youth group ever, back in northeast Ohio circa late 1980s.

The long and short of it, she was writing to tell me that Trudi had died. Subsequent events revealed that Trudi, married and 36 years old, living in Orlando, Fla., had died from complications of lupus. It then becomes my task — or I took it so — to pass this on to Pammie, Suzi and Pat who still are on my e-mail list.

I will avoid the issue, or my opinions on, whether or not Trudi contracted lupus in some way as a result of Desert Storm. We know how difficult those dots are to connect, especially with diseases as slippery as lupus. The existential question for me is simply — why ?

Why someone so young? The girl barely had a chance to experience life, and given the gradual nature of this disease, it is possible that much of her later life was severely limited.

Why someone so talented? Trudi was a gifted artist, with all the quirks that occasionally go with that calling. In high school, she dressed in black before “Goth” was a term. Barbara Mandrell sang of being “country, when country wasn’t cool.” Trudi was “Goth, when Goth wasn’t cool.”

Why someone so gung-ho? Anytime the vans would line up in the church parking lot — vans of parents and kids to make a trip — Trudi would be first in line, with her backpack, often having cajoled her dad into chaperoning. Overnight, youth rally, camping trip, Indians ball game, trip to the theater — it didn’t much matter, Trudi was ready to go. Even if it didn’t appeal personally, like the Indians games, she was committed to the group.

Why? Why? That is the existential question. It may lead us to develop cures, or make sure we appreciate our youth, or some other positive result, none of which answer the why.

Trudi designed a great T-shirt for our “I Survived Friday the 13th Horror Moviethon” one year.

I wish I still had mine, but really good T-shirts leave the Earth too soon. Maybe that sometimes happens to really good people, too.