• author
    • Donald Sanders

    • May 30, 2014 in Columnists

    Death comes to Winters

    I awoke this morning with numerous text messages about a deadly accident at the construction site of a new bridge in my sleepy little home town of Winters, California. I don’t know the particulars yet, but from what I gather, two construction workers are dead.

    Again, Death comes to Winters.

    When Death comes to my little town, its effect is similar to a nuclear blast. If you could see it from above, it would look as if something fell from the sky making a splash when it struck the Earth. From that point of impact, there are multiples of waves, all in neat little circles, traveling in all directions. The circles grow larger and larger until they encompass the entire area.

    This is not the first time Death has been in our little town and it is surely not the last time it will come. It comes with a vengeance when we least expect it. It rushes down one street, over to the next, until it finds what it is looking for. We all know what Death wants and we all know that someday it will come for each and every one of us. We all will have our turn with Death.

    For some, Death is not the worst part of life. I’m sure that some will have a hard time grasping this concept thinking, “Exactly what could be worse than dying?” Well, I’m here to tell you, my friend, that there are many, many things worse than Death. The older I get, the more I realize this is true. I now know that if I live long enough, I will watch each and every person that I know and love die and fade away.

    For many, Death is to be feared. It’s easy to say you don’t fear Death but in that case, wait until it comes for you to say it to his face. At that point, it’s not so easy to say, but some still say it and, in fact, welcome it when it knocks on their door. For some, the pain of life is unbearable and they invite Death unto themselves with their own hand. I find this very sad.

    So, Death has come to my little town again and two young men are taken when it left. As much as we would like to, we cannot bring them back. These two young men will forever be a part of this town. When, in the future, we look at our newly completed bridge we will think of them. Our new bridge will be their new bridge. We now have what the bridge construction community calls, “A two man bridge.”

    Even though many think that Death can be avoided, this is simply not the case. We are each predestined to intersect with Death at certain points in our lives. As proof, I can attest that my life has intersected with Death many times. I never saw it coming, but it came just the same. The first time I met Death I think I was about 9 years old. When Death left, he took my little friend, Butch King.

    We were climbing one of those huge piles of sand and he was right next to me when Death came and took him away. I never saw Death come or go. One moment there was three of us, laughing, and then there were only two — myself and Butch’s younger brother. We looked and looked, frantically, but in the end we never found Butch. He was covered by only six inches of sand, and he could not get out, and we could not find him.

    That’s how it is with Death. You do not expect it, want it or see it, but it’s coming just the same. I think we all know this is true.

    There’s something else I think is true and I hope you feel the same way about this. I feel Death is not the end. I can’t tell you what is coming after Death right now, but I will talk about it with you after Death comes and takes us. If I go first, I will wait for you and we will talk about what has happened and why. I would talk about it now but as you know, Death is a mystery to the living.


    • Lovely interpretation.

    • It was a rough day in Winters yesterday. I really appreciated your description of how when something bad happens here, the shock waves ripple out and touch everyone. It’s so true. I am going to have trouble feeling good about that bridge when it’s done. It will always be “the place were two men died” to me.

      • Think about how the two men lived on the bridge. They were building a uniquely beautiful bridge that we can be proud of. Our children will play under it for generation upon generation and they won’t be thinking about Death, they will be thinking of how cool this bridge is.

      • libby

      • May 31, 2014 at 11:44 am
      • Reply

      Oh wow. Thanks for sharing, you always have good insights. We are all so luck you are part of our lives.

      • Maya North

      • May 31, 2014 at 12:47 pm
      • Reply

      Donald, what you write seems so simple at first, and then it begins to filter in and honestly, it brings me to my knees. You’ve seen so much, endured so much, been wounded by life in ways that would have destroyed most people and yet — there you are, your heart still able to love, your spirit still somehow shining. Big hugs, darling man.

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