Yesterday I arrived home from work and sat in the car, letting the NPR story finish, attention caught by a piece about apartment rents in San Francisco. The economic analyst in me still lives beneath the surface. That and I often sit in the car to let a story finish.
This time, however, I looked up to see Alex coming to my window. Odd, I thought. Maybe he is wondering why I am still sitting here, alone in my car.
Then I saw his face and I knew something was wrong. My thoughts raced, he didn’t want to talk until we got inside. I couldn’t wait.
“Is someone dead?” I asked, a bit panicked.
Before I even had time to ask who, he told me. A friend’s wife. Her heart stopped without explanation as she sat in the car in front of her house before she came in from work. Unexpected. Tragic. Heart breaking.
Now before you offer your condolences, please know, they are misdirected at me. I am deeply saddened by our friend’s loss, but I only knew her from weddings, brief interactions. For me, the sadness is in knowing how devastated Alex’s long-time friend must feel. This is the guy who was a big brother to Alex, let us borrow his super-fast Mustang to drive to prom, helped me learn to work on my own 5.0 Mustang a year or so later.
I cannot even begin to imagine what he must be feeling right now. How deep his grief must be. She also had a son.
Life is so unpredictable, so fleeting. Since Alex shared the news with me, I have been haunted by this quiet whisper of nothing lasts forever, nothing is certain. For Alex the haunting is something more jarring. It changed the way he looks at me. His eyes clinging to the present. His friend’s forlorn words on the other side of the phone still fresh in his mind.
There have been other losses in our relationship, but this is the only one that has ever made him look at me differently. That alone has followed me around all day, tapping me on the shoulder, reminding me. Life is short.
Tonight I just want to remind you to hold those close to you a little tighter and tell them you love them. That’s my plan.