Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"No Dying in China."

That's been our motto ever since the beginning. I think our 2nd day in China, Alison and I were standing paralyzed on a sidewalk, watching what seemed like a thousand buses, motorcycles, pedicabs, taxis, and buses honking their way in different directions down the street. It took a few minutes before we figured out the pattern and a crowd of people amassed next to us to walk across. As Alison and I took the plunge into the street, I took her hand and said, "Remember, there's no dying in China!" I think we still say it to each other on occasion, as a way to diffuse the insanity of whatever it is we're doing (like riding camels or waiting for a critical mass of people to walk across an intersection with). We mock the small possibility that something horrible could happen to us at any moment and one or both of us would not return home. The idea is too terrifying to be thought of in a serious matter, and so we joke.

Yet, yesterday, we found out that one of my Fogarty colleagues studying in Africa was in a serious motorcycle accident, and we were just emailed saying that he had passed away from his injuries. At the interview session, he and I had breaks at the same time, and we got to know each other a little bit during the high-stakes waiting game. He was one of those people who comes off as extremely intelligent, and I was impressed by his passion for decreasing healthcare disparities worldwide, especially in Africa--it was easy to see that he would become a trailblazer in due time. Our "relationship" has continued abroad: we Fogarties all blog-stalk each other, and I've been reading about his adventures there.
Apparently, where he was, there are no 4-wheel taxis, only motorcycles, and his last blog post ironically ended with how much safer he felt now that he had bought a helmet to wear on his taxi rides.

My heart goes out to my colleague's friends and family for the unexpected loss of someone so gifted that his bright future was obvious even to those like me who barely knew him.

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