Last night I got a call that someone close to me, a relative of a relative, passed away suddenly. So suddenly, in fact, that details were sketchy at best and the moments following the devastating news were absolutely shocking. My aunt (by marriage) lost her brother, who I knew well. And when my uncle said “I think we need help here.” I was in the car in literally two minutes. It’s who we are.
But driving…my mind began to wonder. I was sick with shock and couldn’t help but recall holidays, especially New Year parties, spent with my aunt’s brother and The Friend. And then it was just The Friend.
Despite hardly speaking anymore, in times of crisis I can expect him to call me. In fact, we’ve made a pact that if a death is involved, we’ll answer the phone come hell or high water. So I called him and said our code phrase for trouble.
“I just need to hear someone familiar.”
My voice trailed off. I was sad, and waited for the relief to wash over my body as I explained the tragic circumstances. And of course, The Friend was upset, shocked, speechless. He offered help, offered anything I needed to get started to my destination. He checked on my car, even.
There’s always a “but” with The Friend, isn’t there? Maybe that’s why he’s The Friend. I don’t know. I just know that he said “I’m actually already in the area, fishing with my stepdad, visiting family.”
A lie. I felt like my face had been slapped. Suddenly I pictured him huddled in the corner somewhere hiding this phone call from whoever he really was with, wherever they really were. And I imagined his grimace as he realized a pact is a pact and something bad happened and I needed him.
Or maybe it wasn’t a lie. But the point is that with him, I never ever EVER knew. Ever. So what made me think that in this moment, a moment when a person we both knew and cared for was gone, that The Friend would be any better at making me feel at ease?
I thanked him for answering, collected myself, and hung up. Unsatisfied. As usual.
He called this morning but I didn’t answer. I’m mentally worn down and I didn’t want to have to go over things again now that he was “able to talk.”
I hope I learned my lesson on this one. And I hope if you’re the kind who sends prayer, love, or energy, you’ll consider doing so for a fabulous person who left this world way, way too young.