Wednesday 2 January 2002.
life, death, mortality and other shit
Ever hear that bad things come in threes? I came in to work on Friday to the news that the wife of a former co-worker of mine had died suddenly. He had actually been the music supervisor before he left, and I liked him quite a lot. I read his wife's obit, which was taped to the door leading into the break room. It made me sad, and mad. Because you know that almighty power up there will decide to take away the mother of a 3 year old little boy, but will leave the child molester and murderer and the guy who cheats on his taxes well enough alone.
The details about her death passed quietly and quickly throughout the staff, and a sympathy card made the rounds. In the midst of this news, I also learned that Coffee, the general manager, had a brother in the hospital as well. It was not an hour later that I picked up the phone and heard, "Can I speak to Coffee, please? It's an emergency." I knew what had happened.
I happened to be near the back of the store when she came out of the break room to go home, or the hospital, or wherever she had to go. Seeing someone who has just lost a loved one is a complete shock. She just looked...lost. Her eyes were red, and she managed to say, "I'll be back....next week, I guess..." I gave her a quick hug, and I could feel her hurt for the next few hours, bringing tears to my eyes.
Coffee came back to work today for the first time since Friday. She sounded tired and you could hear the sadness in her voice. I struggled to strike the right note of sympathy and normalcy when I talked to her, I watched my co-workers grapple with the same thing. Some favored jokes and a light tone, others were quiet, hushed, respectful. I had no idea how to act or what to say. Pretend it didn't happen? No. Be so down it makes her feel worse? No. Come to think of it, she probably didn't give a fuck how I was acting toward her. I was just another employee who had worked at her store for the past six months that she knew in passing, at best.
I got an IM from one of my best friends from high school, who I haven't spoken to in a good nine months. I don't know exactly why, he just popped up out of the blue to tell me he just got a new puppy named Vegas and that he and this girl are "practically living together". Oh, and by the way, and that in September he found he has Multiple Sclerosis. Nice talking to you and call me sometime!
It's just his style to blow off the fact that he has a chronic, debilitating illness. And it was just his style to make fun of me for being shocked, floored, unable to think up a coherent sentence. We were fucking kids in high school three years ago. Bitching about AP English, dancing in Show Choir, discussing Ayn Rand and Objectivism over crappy Foodland ice cream. What happened? Why can't I go back?
I'm in shock, I guess. I haven't really thought about it much. He's my age. I can't help but imagine him in a wheelchair years from now. Fuck. This is not now things were supposed to happen.
I wrote him a huge 22k email my first semester in college. In it I wrote something like, "I hope you meet the girl of your dreams and have lots of kids and are wonderfully happy." I searched my hard drive and couldn't find it. No loss, really. It was mostly me going on and on about how lonely I was and how much I hate myself and how I was supposedly in love with the loser of the moment. I just wanted to read it again, if only to realize that things aren't like that now.
I can't avoid this anymore. I've went stupidly through my life, ostrich-like, thinking that I was exempt from death, from mortality. I know now, well, I always knew, that someday, somehow, I was going to lose someone that I love. I just never knew it was going to happen like this. Not like this. Not now.