I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Friday, May 20, 2005


I don't want to study for the bar tonight, but I need to. We've been covering a lot of stuff lately. Because I'm still waiting for mommy and daddy's check to come in, I've been stretching the staple ingredients I have at home for dinner. That meant that today was meatball day with sauce - half homemade, half a jar of Barilla... Three meatballs later, I'm stuffed so I can't study Criminal Procedure, Contracts and Torts quite yet...

On top of that, I got a bit of bad news yesterday, that's bummed me out quite a bit. That sounds flippant considering the situation, so I'll rephrase as saying, I feel terrible for my friend and the rest of her family. Her mom died on Tuesday of breast cancer, after a 4-year battle. This girl was one of the first people I met in college - she lived on my floor Freshman year, and was a good friend when I was going through "issues" about whether I wanted to stay in Wisco. or flee back home. Flash forward seven years, my friend just finished her first year of law school, and I can't imagine how it would be to come home after that battle, to find not celebration, but black crepe draped over the door.

Her mom was young - her family is in the prime of their lives...it's just so sad. Not to mention that hearing of my friend's loss caused me to examine what I'd do if one of my parents died. I'm such a mama's and daddy's boy, I simply cannot fathom what I'll do when either one of them goes. And yet, fear of losing my parents has haunted me all my life.

When I was little, and they would go out and I'd have a babysitter, I couldn't sleep until they were home safely, worried that they had either abandoned me, or that they had been killed in an accident. It wasn't until my room hummed with the vibrations of the garage-door opener that I could fall asleep. Even this Mother's day, my parents spent the entire day planting gardens outside...NOT ANSWERING ANY ONE OF FOUR TELEPHONE LINES ALL DAY LONG. I freaked out. If I can't reach one, I call the other. If I can't reach either, I leave a message, which is returned. I kept calling, and calling, and calling, and callingandcallingandcalling leaving messages that became more and more frantic as I tried to keep panic out of my voice. "WHY AREN'T THEY CALLING ME BACK?!" Because it was Sunday, and I knew the morning would be spent swimming and running, then coffee at Mad City, I promptly leapt to the logical conclusion that clearly they had been killed in a horrible automobile accident on the way from Mad City Coffee Shop to our home, a distance of a mile. Tops. I even pulled my brother into my delusion, "Have you talked to mom or dad yet today?" "No, I left Mom a message wishing her happy Mother's day." "Has she called you back yet?" "Not yet, no." "Have you spoken to Dad today?" "No." "Oh.... When was the last time you spoke to them?"

I'm crazy. And I don't know why I insist on imagining these absolutely gut-wrenchingly terrifying scenarios where my parents are driving back from the Inn at Little Washington or Olives or some other D.C. area fancy restaurant, and a drunk driver careens out of nowhere, killing them and rendering my brother and me orphans. When it snows up there? Forget it. I'm a basketcase down here.

So as usual, I'm on edge. Now it's because my friend's family has been dealt this horrific blow, and my nightmare has become their reality, made even worse by the fact that her death was not quick -- cancer. Cancer, cancer, cancer. The ugliest word for the ugliest disease. Dan has gotten a group of us together to make a donation to the Susan G. Komen cancer society, and I have to buy a card... I always send cards, because it's the least intrusive way to let someone know that you're thinking about them. At the same time, sending cards has always also seemed to be a well-intentioned, yet annoying gesture, "I'm so sorry for your loss. Here's more paper." I know it's an expression of solidarity and support, and it's the thought more than anything else, but I remember after my grandmother died, the profusion of cards that rolled in got tiresome after a while.

If my friend happens to be reading this, I hope she knows how truly sorry I am for her loss (Even though over the next few days, weeks and months, she'll get tired of that cliched condolence.) I hope she knows that I genuinely mean it when I say that if I can do anything for her (even though she's way, way, way, way far away) and her family, I would be happy to. I hope she knows that I've been thinking about all of her family since I heard her news, and that I'm awestruck by the way my friend hasn't spontaneously combusted yet. I hope my friend knows that I would not wish the pain of losing her mother on anyone, and that I'm very proud of her for the courage that doubtless she's showing in the face of this tragedy, in whatever way that courage manifests itself. I hope she knows that her life will go on eventually, and that somehow she will manage to compartmentalize her numbing, paralyzing grief and that now, this summer, and beyond, her only real job is to help herself and her family come to accept the loss that they have been dealt. And lastly, I hope that her mother is in a better place, her suffering finally over, looking down on her family, with them always, and visiting with them in their dreams.

As an Innuit legend says, "Perhaps they are not stars, but openings in heaven, where the love of our lost ones pours through, and shines down to let us know they are happy."


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