Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Love and Loss

That moment when your world gets completely upended with no warning, and all the shit you're dealing with no longer matters because someone you love is hurting. That moment...

I learned today that my best friend's dad died. Stef has been my best friend since 7th grade, so I've known her parents since I was 13 years old. They have been kind, warm, and welcoming, just like Stef. I have loved them nearly as long as I have loved her. Big Lee was an incredible man. I don't know who named him Big Lee (Stef, maybe?). He was short in stature but huge in personality. His heart was the size of Montana. I never saw him without a smile, and he usually had a (really bad) joke to tell. Everyone he met became a friend. He loved M, as one charismatic engineer to another. And his daughter adored him.

When Stef told her parents she is gay, Big Lee responded how every parent should: he told her that he loved her, would always love her, because she's his daughter. I can't imagine the relief she must have felt, because it was really hard for her to tell them. She feared the disappointment. She needn't have worried about her dad.

It's weird to me to think that there's this hole in the world now, that Lee used to fill. It's hard for me to comprehend that he is gone. That I won't see him again at Christmas, that he'll never send me a goofy email out of the blue with a joke he thinks I might like. That I'll never get another funny story about his exploits from Stef.

And I can't imagine what she and her mom must be feeling right now.

This is the second time just this week that one of my friends lost her beloved father. I am seriously not ready for this shit. I am not ready for my generation to start losing our parents. We are too young. They are too young. (The definition of "young" skewing higher and higher the older I get.) I don't like this feeling of helplessness, that people I care about are experiencing excruciating pain and loss and I can't help one damn bit. This week is the anniversary of my aunt's passing. It's been five years and I still can't believe she's gone.

When you get news like this, it's crazy how much your world perspective changes. Today, I was sitting there discussing some issues with my assistant. We were reviewing tasks that were completed and ones coming up and the status of several projects. I had my office window open. My phone was lighting up like mad. Text after text after text. I finally paused the conversation to check the phone and was stunned to see Stef's message, sent to a small group of us. Everyone was responding, which was why my phone was going crazy.

All of a sudden, nothing on my desk mattered. The tasks and projects and the new website and the stack of invoices needing to be coded...none of it mattered any more. All that shit was just that: shit. My world immediately collapsed down into what was happening to my friend and her family.

Isn't that strange how that happens? I'm always surprised by that. I still remember the phone call about my aunt, and the phenomenon of my world shrinking immediately to what was truly important. It's all a matter of perspective, right?

I responded to Stef, who was stuck on a plane with paralyzed limbs, trying to get home, and then cried for awhile, and then tried to work. It's hard to do the mundane, hard to act like everything is like it was before. It's like an out-of-body experience or something.

We went out to eat tonight, and shared Big Lee stories over dinner. Then I insisted we get dessert at the Custard Station to celebrate Big Lee. It was a small nod to a man who celebrated every day of his life, who once spent an entire dinner trying to convince two 14-year-old girls that it's pronounced "par-MEE-zhan cheese" with a straight face. Who serenaded me and M with "Centerfield" one night as we visited. Who wore a trucker hat that said "ASGROW," some agro-company, that prompted his daughter to ask, "Hey Big Lee! How'd your ASGROW?"

Stef said today that her world will never be the same, and I believe her. OUR world will never be the same, because Big Lee isn't in it any more. I gotta believe he's already up in heaven, regaling St. Peter with bad jokes, awful puns, and a great rendition of "Centerfield."

Please keep Stef, and my friend Amy, and my cousin Jen, in your thoughts and prayers this week. I can't imagine how they feel, which reminds me of how lucky I am to still have all my parents. And say a prayer of thanksgiving that they, and us, are so blessed to have received all the love their parents had to give.


Blogger Amy Grzina said...

Thanks for the shout out and prayers!

7:33 PM  

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