Thursday, March 27, 2008

For a Friend...

Last week my wife had a minor car accident in the lot of our condo complex. It was nothing major. No injuries or tow truck needed. She came back in to wake me up, and tell me what happened, and admittedly, I was not thrilled. As it turned out, an honest, slow moving “oops” cost a few hundred bucks.

I had plans that day. I had just accepted my new job the afternoon before after months of looking. I was going to sleep in, go get my drug test done, hit the grocery store, and then go have a look at a few new car options. My drug test took almost an hour, not to mention I had to go home and come back again to prove that I was actually on a medicine I claimed to be on. Traffic sucked all four times I made the drive. I didn’t get to the grocery store. In the midst of all this we had to drop off the injured car for repairs, which called for me to borrow one from my mom. Needless to say, there was a lot of shuffling around and tedious work getting done. And I didn’t get to do hardly anything on my list.

About mid-day when I realized I wasn’t going to get to do anything I planned, I was pretty much mad…just flat out mad. Then I got a call from Vanik.

Vanik left me a message that I couldn’t hear very well. I was driving and distracted so I wasn’t concentrating too hard to be honest. But there was something about someone who we (static) deals with in the past (static) Paula died last night (static) and so on. I only knew one Paula, and we had just spoken the day before. She wasn’t sick or hurt or anything…no chronic illnesses. So I didn’t think anything of it, and finished errands. Once I was finished, I stopped by my office to talk to Vanik for some clarification, and was instead greeted with a slew of questions about Paula. The same Paula I knew. The same one I had worked with and been friends with for nearly 3 years. It was at that point, that it had dawned on me that this was not a coincidence. My friend, Paula, the one with whom I had exchanged countless real estate oriented pick me ups, the one who had called me on the morning of my wedding to say hello and she was thinking of us, the one who I had spoken to literally 24 hours prior to share my good fortune of my new job, and the one who excitedly congratulated me on my position was now gone. No symptoms, no signals, no history of anything adverse. No warning.

I called Trina. I never call Trina and she never calls me. We only talk on the phone about 6 times a year, if that, and those are in cases of emergencies. Of course she assumed I was calling about the total on the car repairs, and I gave her the number. And I quickly followed it with saying clearly that I didn’t care. Our cars are my babies. For me to not care about what happened to them or what it would cost to have them fixed was serious. I told her what had happened, and immediately she was ready to leave work to come be with me. I told her to stay, thanking her for the concern. But said again that I didn’t care about the cars. That’s all I could think of. I don’t care about the cars.

Reality became very clear to me that afternoon, and I sat down in the middle of my living room with my dog in my lap and lost it. I just cried for about 20 minutes. Then I composed myself, sucked down 2 beers back to back, which is something I never ever do, and lost it again for a few more minutes. Okay, so reality wasn’t so clear just then, but once I got myself together the second time, this is what came out…
I measured my bad day in dollars and cents for the most part. That, and in time lost as well. My day was wasted, I have nothing to show for it, and I was $900 poorer. And it didn’t matter because Trina was going to be home in a few hours. She was going to come in, and hug me, and see how I was, and we were going to get our car back, and have some sushi that night, or whatever. I thought I had a bad day? No…Paula’s fiancée Steve had a bad day. He would’ve wasted an afternoon and a sum of money to have her come home that day.

I don’t agree with the “live like you were dying” principle. I think that it gives people a license to live like an idiot because “who knows, you might die tomorrow”. Yes indeed you might. I would rather assume the role that I am going to live. If I’m ever injured in an accident, I want the docs to operate on me with the knowledge that I plan to live. But that doesn’t mean that everyone else around you feels the same way. Live like you are living, not dying. Love the ones your with. See them often. Don’t leave them angry.

As for Paula, if you knew her, you loved her, and that’s all there is to it. You couldn’t know her and not like her. She touched a lot of people after knowing them even if she knew them for a very short time. Her smile and happiness were infectious. The world is a lesser place with her loss. But rest assured she’s busy where she is making sure everyone she knew is as safe as she can make them


Blogger Abby said...

Toph, I'm so sorry. Trina told me about her dying, but I didn't know that you were close to her.
Hope you're doing well now. And yes, she is in a better place watching out for her loved ones, including you.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Mom said...

What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend. We will all miss Paula-I called her "the bubble" because she was always so bouncy and happy and full of fun. Live like you were living--good stuff

3:46 PM  

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