As a teen I had my ways of trying to shrug off reminders of mortality, of keeping them at arm’s length and moving on. Mostly I made light of it. “Live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse” was my motto – though of course I reserved it for those unfortunate blips in time when death “happened” to someone else.

It almost happened to me. I was walking home with a group of fellow undergrads from a rock concert on campus. We’d taken a familiar shortcut. But we were stoned and only vaguely aware of just how close it ran along the edge of a deep gorge.

Friends tell me that I was there one second and gone the next.