I was getting ready to leave the office tonight when I saw a tweet from a friend with the news that Jeret "Speedy" Peterson had died. Jeret was a freestyle skier and medalist on the US Olympic Team in Vancouver.
I got to met Speedy at an event just prior to Vancouver. I was tasked with making sure he and one of his teammates got in the car that would take them to the airport. We sat on a bench at 30 Rockefeller Center and chatted a bit while we waited. He was cute and funny and charming-just exactly what you imagine when you think of meeting an Olympic skier. When the freestyle team came through team processing a few months later they were lively and fun and his silver medal moment was one of my favorites from the Games.
So the contrast of this young, vibrant guy I have in my head and reading that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot is breaking my heart tonight.
I was already thinking this after reading about Amy Winehouse and her fairly tragic death this weekend as well but gosh, this kind of thing just makes me want to be kinder and more patient with people. We have no idea what kind of demons the people around us might be battling. This article written during the 2010 Games talks about the particular difficulties Jeret went through and the enormous efforts he made to try to deal with them.
I have a lot of Olympic related people and organizations in my social networks so I've been reading all kinds of sweet messages from his friends and teammates. They reminded me of this Jackson Browne song that I've loved since I was about 16. It's sad but it's also tender and hopeful.
I sincerely hope Jeret is finally getting to feel the peace he couldn't seem to find in this life. And that maybe heaven has hills.