I know part of getting old is that folks you know die. I know that. It’s the law of averages. The longer you live, the more likely the people around you are going to get their ticket punched. I have plenty of friends who have fought and beaten cancer. Some who weren’t so lucky. A guy from high school dumped his bike the month after we graduated and died. A very close friend of mine from high school was murdered in San Jose during her first year at State, a crime that was never solved. A guy I knew vapor locked a few years ago. No matter who it is, it always leaves a hole where they were.
Last night I found out that someone I used to play rugby with passed away. She died from injuries sustained in the National Championship in 2001. She’d moved away and I didn’t know until last night. In this case, it’s a little more than someone I used to know. She was like the Dos Equis Man of her day. I remember the first time as a San Francisco team we saw her. It was in the mid to late 80’s. She had a lion’s mane of blonde hair, aviator sun glasses and a BMW. No one drove a BMW back then. She’d set off the alarm on her own car. You can imagine what the rough and tumble San Francisco side thought about that. She was beautiful and tan and not like any rugby player any of us had seen before. She was kind of in her own world and didn’t immediately warm up with her team. We didn’t even think she was on the team, we thought she was the coach’s girlfriend. I was with San Francisco and she played for Berkeley. I could say I don’t remember how the came turned out, but I do. Berkeley destroyed us. She destroyed us from the backfield. She was strong, physical and athletic and ran like the wind. And then it was time for the party. And Berkeley destroyed us a second time. Our team had never played quarters before. We lost that too. Kim was the master of bad ideas, but I wouldn’t know who she really was for several more years. We’d go out with the Berkeley team and Kim would talk to the door man and we were in. Nobody knew how that happened. Ever. It just did. She wasn’t big on rules. I remember when we stole the Seal of the State of California from the House of Representatives. Yeah, the real House. Kim distracted the security guard and several other players removed the seal. Upon sobering up, we chose to mail it back from New Jersey. She was a mortgage broker for a while before heading down to LA. She had a spectacular home up in the hills above Mill Valley. It was the first time I’d seen white oak floors. Back then it was real oak. And the first time I’d seen someone turn a bedroom into a dressing room. She was wild. Life was always turned up to 11 with her. It could be easy to lose the real woman in all the noise, but on several occasions we’d be sitting there at a rugby party and she’d just start talking. She was so real and so intelligent and so thoughtful. She was a very special creature. I really thought I’d be able to see her down the line doing something truly amazing. What I found was in the eight years since she left Berkeley and went to LA she did a plethora of amazing things. More than most people will attain in their entire life. Her flame burned hot and bright. And I guess her allotment was up. And that’s a shame.