26 January 2005

Keeping in Contact

I have two answers for "What was - so far - the worst day of your life?"

Number one was Christmas Day 2003 when, after hearing the news from Audrey, David and I drove out to Mom's to tell her that Sara was dead. On the All Time List of Sucky Jobs, telling your Mother that your sister is dead ranks right up there at the top.

(As far as can be determined, Sara died from a reaction to some medication she had been prescribed. It's not uncommon for patients to have to try several different meds before the one is found that solves the problem the best with the fewest unfriendly side effects. At least two meds had given Sara seizures. She was also a pretty heavy smoker. Since she was 9 years old. She tried quitting once or twice but never made it stick. She told me once when she was in a quitting phase how interesting it was to run until your legs hurt instead of running until your lungs hurt.)

Horrible Day #2: Jenny (my then roommate) was out for the evening and her friend Katsi called. I said Jenny was out and Katsi asked me to a pass on a message - that she had seen an item in the paper that Tom (a college friend) was dead. She wasn't positive it was the same Tom, but the last name is pretty unusual and the town was right, so she thought Jenny ought to know. I agreed to tell her, hung up, and got to work. There was absolutely no way I was going to pass that news on without finding a way to verify it.

To make a long story short, I tracked down Tom's mother and called her. I said I was a friend (I'd met him once) and had heard something odd about Tom and was he okay? She said no, he had been killed in an accident the day before. The funeral was scheduled for the following day and she was going crazy because she didn't have any information on Tom's friends outside of first names. Could I help her? I gave her the names of the people I knew that Tom knew and said I'd call them. I spent the rest of the evening on the phone, making people unhappy. Before I went to bed, I left notes all over the house Jenny, asking her to wake me up when she got it in.

The only upside to that story is that if Katsi hadn't called me and I hadn't called everyone else, none of them would have known about the funeral in time to say good-bye to their friend. Or lend their support to his family and each other.

So I keep a copy of my Christmas card list in the same file with my will. If anything happens to me, people who are far away can be notified. And someone will post a comment here, I hope. I'm in good health and I look before I cross the street, so I expect to be around for quite a while, but fate is capricious.

I suggest y'all do something similar.

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