One minute you are scrambling to fix the Christmas lights that have been blown over by a raging wind and it’s the most important thing in the world and the next minute .. you’re an unlikely messenger of tragic news. That was my day yesterday.
I’ve been spending my days lately getting ready for future events. Whether it be the Christmas party we are hosting for Jim’s office on Friday or Christmas in general or the wedding or just the next day which is an exhausting list of rotating things that always need doing. That’s exactly what I was doing yesterday when I received an unexpected message from a woman I have not seen or talked to in 15+ years. It was a Facebook messenger message and at first I thought it was some spam message.
The woman is the ex-wife of a man who is a close friend of friends of mine as well as my ex-husband. She relayed to me that he, her ex, had died unexpectedly. I then called her to get more info.
She said she didn’t know who else to contact since she’s not connected to anyone else. Through her tears she quickly relayed a few details about a heart attack and surgery and difficulty in recovery and additional complications. It was very brief and her request was that I relay the information to his friends. I agreed to do that and fumbled to say a few kind words and that was the extent of the conversation.
Mind, I haven’t seen this person for about 10 years as well. He was a part of the group of friends I was largely disconnected from when I got divorced. Still, he was a groomsman in my wedding and I went to high school with him and spent many, many good times at his parents house. That was all a long time ago but it’s still a part of my past.
When I hung up I just sort of sat and cried for a minute. He was still so young.. 47 and had two boys. Those poor boys.
Then I realized I had just committed to passing the info along to others. I called my ex-husband first and passed the brief story almost matter of fact like. What else could I do? This person was my exes best friend from elementary school. I don’t know if they were still friends as the relationship was very strained at times, but there’s still so much history there.
I told him who else I was contacting and asked that he pass the info to anyone else. I then called my good friends and that conversation went much the same. Just passing info. It didn’t strike me until later in the day when I was told that they speak to this person several times a week and there was never mention of heart trouble or surgery. Almost unbelievable really. And to have this news come from me instead of his dad or someone else had to be extremely strange. Again, almost unbelievable. I’m not sure I even 100% believed it.
I was really just a messenger and it was probably inappropriate.. but I was just doing what someone asked me to do. In the moment I didn’t think to question it or suggest other options. I think I was in shock. I am imagining now that news has travelled and someone, somewhere is in the throws of making arrangements. I expect the next bit of information I get will be about the funeral. I’m connected by history and people and I’m already feeling anxious about seeing everyone again. It’s selfish, I know, but it’s just the way of things.
It was an odd feeling to keep going about my day after that. I drug trash cans and yard waste cans and recycle bins to the curb. I dropped boxes of donations at goodwill and the food bank. I ran a few errands and through all of it, my thoughts never strayed very far from those conversations. Jim and I had a conversation about it, but there was not much to say.
I woke this morning thinking about it again. I guess this post is just one step in a process that feels necessary. I’m no stranger to friends passing and I just want to be there to support mine in their grief process, whatever that might be. It’s safe to say it’s something no one is ever really prepared for.
It’s a reminder that every day is a gift. Don’t wait to tell the people you love that you love them.