Tuesday, March 6, 2018

President Mitchell

Mitchell died when I was ten. Somewhere around that age, although maybe I was nine, or eleven. But I remember when Mitchell died. It was winter and he was sledding. Down one of the unbelievably massive ridges of snow that street-plows used to pile up along the sides of South Dakota streets before climate change. He slipped under a car that drove by at just the wrong time.

Mitchell's death got to me. It was the first death I was old enough to appreciate and understand. All these decades later, I can still recapture the sick-at-my-core cloudy blot of darkness and loss that his senseless death conjured in my ten-year-old gut.

I like to think that if he had lived, maybe the world would be in a better place. In fact, maybe that's when things went off the road in this reality. Except that it was such a small thing compared to world events that no one (outside the small town where I grew up) noticed. A butterfly flaps its wings, a child dies too soon, that sort of thing.

I wonder if in another reality, where Mitchell lived... things would be different. Who knows, maybe he'd have risen to become the 45th president.

Mitchell, somewhere out there, I hope you're doing right by the life you never got to lead here.

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