I was busily working when my home phone rang. As a telecommuter, i have a phone line that's strictly business and another that's strictly for home. Most friends who call me on the home line know i don't normally have long, personal conversations during work hours, so the number of personal calls i get are few and brief.
When the phone rang today, i wondered if it were a friend who sometimes stops by over lunchtime to say hi. No, it was someone else calling with sad news. A young woman from where i used to live had died over the weekend, and as we were having fun at a local event, we didn't know. He had just found out and thought i ought to know, so called. As he was talking to me, his voice broke, and he started to cry.
"I don't know why this is affecting me so much."
I had a theory but said nothing other than well, it's a shock. Who knew?
And then he babbled about reading the obituary and cancer society donations and she was just 30.
I thought of the saying, "Be kind to all you meet for they may be facing some sort of battle." Or it goes something like that. We knew her husband and his father, and i actually knew his father better than the husband or the young woman, but there was never a mention of any sort of horrific illness. There was just the steady humdrum of daily living, the small talk, the tasks at hand.
That's what was so bothersome. We didn't know. But even if we had known, what could we have done? Perhaps it was a gift that they could simply be "normal" with us, that our conversations weren't filled with chemo, cancer, prognosis, hospice. They were instead punctuated with puns, interesting snippets culled from newspapers, and an occasional gift of a homemade cranberry-apple pie.
I'm sorry for the husband and the father and sorriest of all for the little daughter who has lost her mother.
It seems strange to think that we were having so much fun the same weekend and had actually mentioned the father and husband in one of many conversations. It's made me think of when i was in that space of just having lost a loved one and keenly aware how life is all around me; my world is forever changed, my heart is breaking, and i hear a child cry for something it wants, or a dog barking because the mailman is coming. I wonder if i'll ever again join their ranks where i'll have just an ordinary day and appreciate it for the gift that it is. The answer for me has always been yes, after some space. Clearly enough space had elapsed between the last devastating loss and now, because i find myself brought up short with this news. I realize i've taken ordinary days for granted and haven't seen them for being wonderful because they are so ordinary. Seems a reread of "Our Town" is in order. And to be thankful for my ordinary day.