- 7:22 p.m.
Hey Kids… welcome to your week. This week. A new week.
Last week, let me say, NOT so good.
I’m sensing an eerie trend, which is this: lately, almost every time I update, if my tone and mood is leaning towards the upbeat and positive (which, come on, I’m trying here), almost immediately following (okay, let’s say within 24hours) someTHING happens to someBODY. And the someTHING is usually not-so-good, and the someBODY is usually, somebody I care about.
I’m here today to BREAK THAT TREND. I will not be scare-tactic-ed (self-inflicted, by the way) into thinking that IF I update today, someTHING will transpire. So why even mention or identify the possibility of that trend(ish)? Good question. Maybe I’ll delete this entire first part before it reaches your eyes. We’ll see.
Anyway, here’s why I was saying it. (Again with the "by the way") As it turns out, THIS is going to be a real rambling entry. I apologize for the time commitment it will require.
****************************************Last week, I stepped away from the computer after posting, and literally, with sitcom-like timing, the phone rang.
It was a close friend (I mentioned her in an entry…wait… I’m looking it up….on............. 1/20/2004… you can go look at it if you’d like. IF I KNEW HOW TO INSERT A LINK HERE, I’d do it for you, I am that kind of a person, but, if you haven’t noticed, I only know how to ramble on and assemble accompanying graphics, but do NOT know how to insert helpful links. I apologize for the inconvenience.).
Anyway, I received a call from a close friend, GLYNN. She sounded very upset and asked me if “I’d heard”.
Anytime someone starts a conversation with that sentence, with “did you hear about_____”, it CAN’T be good. It won’t be good if their voice is shaky, and normally they are mostly-devoid of highs or lows. If it’s a pretty well-balanced person calling, and their voice is shaky and they start with the sentence “did you hear about _____?”, we’re in trouble.
So, I hadn’t. I hadn’t heard. And. It wasn’t good.
Our dear friend, TARA, a friend I’ve known for many, many, many years, who I’d seen through great jobs and great boyfriends to unemployed and boyfriend-less to amazing job and no boyfriend to amazing job and new boyfriend to amazing job and new husband to amazing job and… “what, you’re pregnant?” to amazing job and “what, you’re pregnant again” to amazing job, husband, 2 young kids and last week…. This friend, this was the friend who the “did you hear” was about.
Let me give you an example:
Okay, make THE MOM in that picture hip, fresh and a wildly-talented designer. Make THE DAD much, much more layed back. Like, “Hawaiian shirt and shorts”- Layed Back, and the kids are a 3 1/2 year old girl who looks JUST LIKE the Mom and a 3-month-old boy who looks JUST LIKE the Dad. Okay. Are we clear? Can you picture it? Picture Them?
So, back to the news. The husband. The Dad.
He died. Suddenly. Tragically.
Of a sudden, massive heart attack.
Enough with the sudden heart attacks. I’m YELLING THAT AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS. ENOUGH. Enough with the death and dying and sudden heart attacks.
As kids we learn to draw a heart pretty early on:
As we grow older, we assign it lots of importance. It signifies LOVE.
But, in all reality, it looks like this:
And if it stops, if it attacks, if it breaks if it gets clogged, we’re screwed. We’re over. It’s over. This heart, our actual HUMAN HEART…. Ohhhhhhhhh…. I feel so powerless that it all rests in the balance of THIS THING. That it all hinges on THIS THING continuing to function.
I lost my BELOVED FRIEND and THERAPIST… 2 1/2 months ago because HER HEART ceased functioning. Aortic Tear. Never saw it coming. And now… My dear, dear, dear TARA lost her husband, 43 years old (which might sound old to some of you, but believe me, it’s not old) because HIS HEART… attacked.
He’d gone to the Emergency Room earlier that day, he wasn’t feeling right. They sent him home and told him he had a virus. A virus. I’m angry. They missed it. Less than 8 hours later, he had a MASSIVE HEART ATTACK right in front of his wife. A drop to the floor HEART ATTACK. She dialed 911, tried to resuscitate him… and they rushed him BACK to the Emergency Room. He died. He never came back.
At the hospital, in the Emergency Room, not knowing the outcome of all the efforts, my friend Tara sat. In shock. A doctor walked toward her.
His entire speech was about how HE did everything HE could, it wasn’t HIS fault. HE had been the same doctor that sent her husband home earlier that day. He was busy trying to establish his NON-LIABILITY. Her comfort, her tragedy, her loss…. Was not his concern. He left her, weeping and in shock.
When I heard this, I wanted a DO-OVER. I wanted ER’s DR. CARTER to be the one to compassionately tell her.
I wanted him to hold her hand, rub her shoulder protectively and gently advise her that Pete was gone. I wanted him to offer to write a check from his trust fund for her. I wanted him to offer to come over and throw a ball with her son as soon as he was old enough. I wanted Noah Wyle’s Doctor Carter to sit with her, weep with her and hold her. I hate that THAT MOMENT, the one she will play over and over again in her head, the one where she finds out that HER HUSBAND, THE FATHER OF HER CHILDREN has died… was delivered to her by a total ASSHOLE. I’m pissed.
Anyway, My Amazing Girlfriend/Same-Sex Partner/Lady-Lover/Meal Ticket/Symbol of Strength for everyone… was… just that. We drove down to The OC™ and visited with Tara. We tried to be of comfort. We cried with her. We made her laugh; we tried to get her to talk. About. Anything. We hugged for a long time. We reminded her how loved she is. We walked around the house and she told us about all of Pete’s unfinished projects (building a deck in the backyard; adding a closet; fixing a boat).
Finally, we left, knowing we’d see her at his memorial service a few days later.
His family, a wacky-aunt to be more specific, planned his Memorial. She, we find out now, is a very, very, very devout “Jesus is my personal savior” Christian. Pete was not. Pete’s church on Sunday was a fishing boat and beers with the boys. Until a week before his life ended. Apparently, Pete was saved. Wacky-Aunt staged some sort of “Spiritual Intervention” and Pete was “saved”. Let me just preface the rest of this by saying that I think RELIGION is wonderful. And PERSONAL. Whatever works, as long as it encourages you to do good things for others and live an honest life. Go on with your bad selves with all the RELIGION you can handle. Yeehaw. No problem. Amen.
So, we arrive at the church:
The people in attendance are split up into a few groups:
The family, all dressed casually; Tara’s friends, all dressed in the freshest black-anything-ensembles you can imagine and Pete’s friends, all in Hawaiian Shirts and sorta-dress slacks that they might have worn to a job interview.
Our section, the FRIENDS of TARA section were fidgeting from the get-go. We were concerned for her as soon as the PREACHING began. Suddenly, it wasn’t about PETE or THE LOSS of PETE or FINDING COMFORT at this time…. It was about CONVERSION. The minister:
Was trying to convert all of us, to get us all to, right now, this moment, ACCEPT CHRIST as our PERSONAL SAVIOR. The minister lectured for 45 minutes about how ALL OF US needed to be saved, in order to go to heaven, otherwise, HELL awaits us. Occasionally he’d mention PETE, but rarely, and certainly nothing of comfort for Tara.
I wanted to stand up and scream, “Are you kidding me with this?” Everyone was SO UNCOMFORTABLE and it was SO…. SO VERY INAPPROPRIATE to do… at a memorial. Right? Right? Yes. Right.
When the Minister asked us to close our eyes and pray, and he began to start to try and put some kind of an “accept Christ as your personal savior and be saved” spell on us, I was humming a song. I can’t remember what song now, but let’s just say that it was Green Day’s “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” or Green Day’s “Time of your Life”… yeah, it was “Time of your Life”… I know it’s cliché, but I was trying to be in control of my own thoughts and not be brainwashed-lite by the Minister.
As soon as we heard “Amen”, all the FRIENDS of TARA exited the building at an accelerated pace. Once gathered outside, we all whispered/shouted/exclaimed/discussed our shock at the inappropriateness of that whole thing.
It felt like we’d been invited to a friends house for dinner, and suddenly there wasn’t any dinner, but instead, it was a Tupperware party, only the Tupperware was religion, and none of us were buying. OR… you think you’re being set up on a blind date, but you show up for the date, and instead of the blind date, it’s A MINISTER who wants you to accept Christ as your personal savior. No blind date. No dinner. No movie. Just religion.
That’s how that went.
The “after gathering” was held at the Wacky Aunt’s house. All the FRIENDS of TARA went, only so they could see TARA, then leave. We gathered in the driveway, afraid to go inside because instead of beverages, there were probably little cups of mind-control-drug-laced Kool Aid, that we’d accidentally drink, and then find ourselves accepting Christ as our personal savior while sitting on a hideously upholstered couch from the ‘80s. Next to a congregation member, the Minister or Wacky Aunt herself.
As soon as Tara arrived, she hugged us. All of us. She apologized and… laughed. She laughed at how much Pete would have HATED that. How the whole thing was SO NOT HIM. How tortured she was for all of us. How the shock of THAT SERVICE actually took her out of her OTHER SHOCK. The SHOCK of LOSING HER HUSBAND.
I hugged her again, as we were leaving. Hugged her tight. Told her I loved her. So much. Then said “Tara, I’m so sorry. (pause). So sorry that I couldn’t accept Christ as my personal savior.” She laughed. A big laugh. A laugh that said “I know. Can you believe it? Me either”.
And now she begins the rest of her life. Without him.
So… you. You all--- go hug your people. Anyone with a beating heart. Cherish them. Hold onto them. Forgive them. Love them. I’m gonna go do the same thing. Then I’m gonna call Tara.
Be good to yourselves.
Xoxoxo more soon.