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Friday, September 25, 2015

Tragedy in Middlesex

Despite all the news this week about the Pope's visit to the USA, the resignation of John Boehner, the fraud by Volkswagen, and the pillage-and-plunder tactics of Turing Pharmaceuticals, I write today about a tragedy in Middlesex, N.C. half an hour east of Raleigh.

Richard Moreau, age 66 of North Attleborough, Mass., was in the middle of a solo bicycle trip from his home to Florida when he lost contact with family. His body was discovered yesterday in his tent that he had pitched by a little-traveled highway outside Middlesex, population 822. Apparently he died of natural causes. Something about his story has grabbed me deeply, perhaps because I'm at the age where I wonder what my retirement years will be like — assuming I will be lucky enough to have some. Or perhaps the connection is that having watched both my parents pass away in 2013, I am curious about how my own eventual demise will play out. This is not morbid in my opinion; it's natural in the truest sense, without obsession but with sincere interest.

Moreau was a fit, experienced cyclist who had planned his journey carefully. On the one hand, he died after three weeks of living his dream. No, he didn't get to savor finishing his adventure, but it was an adventure nonetheless and I suspect he was happily on his way despite the inevitable tribulations of such an undertaking. On the other hand, he died alone in a roadside tent without the comfort of family present and perhaps in dire distress. Did he know he dying? Was he within range of a cell tower? Was he too stricken to call 911? Or did death come to him so suddenly that he experienced neither discomfort nor loneliness? Unanswerable, all.

But I know this: his last breaths were of fresh autumn air in a quiet countryside after a day doing what he wanted to do most, and the aims of his adventure were sincere, benign to society, and encouraged by family. May he rest in peace and rise with a smile.