You never know

According to the newspaper obit, this soldier’s one true ambition was to become a writer.

He took four years of Latin in high school to become a better writer, and he had had a number of pieces published in the school’s literary magazine.

He planned to attend college and major in English. He thought he might be able to teach on the side until he could get himself established in print.

Somehow after high school graduation he ended up enlisting in the Army National Guard. He held the rank of private when he died.

His high school friends described him as quiet and polite. He was known for thinking outside of the box, and always had a ready smile.

According to his medical record, with the exception of a minor forearm fracture incurred in boyhood, he was only seen in the office for annual physical examinations; and those became less frequent as he got older.

There was never a hint of depression, never any inclination toward self-destructive behavior. When the news broke, that was why no one could believe that the cause of death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Vita incerta, mors certissima — an ironic epitaph for a young gifted writer with promising talent.

You just never know about such things, I muse, as I gently close the medical record on my desk.

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