Words. There are not many times where I’m at a loss for them. I may sometimes use them too sarcastically, use them incorrectly (vocab not one of my strengths), keep them inside so as to avoid confrontation, or say them too quietly (my meep meep issue) but usually, I have something to say. You can tell from some of my run on, rambling posts that I sometimes have too much to say.
My good friend’s dad died on Wednesday. Her dad. The one who she described as her rock while her mom suffered with mental illness at times in her life growing up. The one who I overheard her calling “daddy” on the phone only recently (I always think a daughter has a special relationship with her dad if at our age she calls him daddy). The one who she cared for during the past 5 months after being diagnosed with cancer. She drove two hours a day, many days a week to be with him. She became HIS rock. She stayed so positive. She ignored the nay-sayers that said he wouldn’t beat this. The news of his death left ME with a loss of words.
I’m not good with death. Is anyone? Does everyone have the same deep fear of it that I have? I’m not sure because I never talk about it. I fear death on many levels. I fear dying myself. I fear it so much that I can bring myself to tears if I lay in bed at night thinking about it. The headaches that I had for months on end I was sure was a brain tumor that paralyzed me with fear. I google every symptom and end up with the worst prognosis. The worst part, I don’t go to the doctor. I’m too scared. Ridiculous, I know but I guess, I just don’t want to know. I also fear someone close to me dying. I fear the helpless feeling, the not having the right words, the wanting to “make all better” and not being able to, the feeling of “unfairness” and “why them?”. I like when things run smoothly around me, death doesn’t fit into this neat, unrealistic world that I like to imagine myself living in.
I had a good friend die a few years ago. It scarred me. She had a 10 month old baby. She was healthy one day and had throat cancer as a nonsmoker the next. She fought hard to live for her husband and baby and lost. I lay in bed wondering what went through her head those last weeks. I cry imagining what that must have been like for her, for her parents, for her husband. I cry imagining if that happened to me, to my husband, to my child.
Does everyone think about it this much?
I called my friend the morning after her dad died. I didn’t plan what I wanted to say. I thought the words would just come. I pride myself on being a very empathetic, caring, loving friend. I’d know what to say. She didn’t answer the phone and when the “beep” sounded on her voicemail, I froze. What words could I say? In most uncomfortable situations I turn to sarcasm or wittiness to lighten the mood. Not here. When someone is sad over a lost job or a deteriorating marriage, something along the lines of “it will be ok”, “let’s talk it out”, or “everything happens for a reason” can ease the pain. Again, not here. The automated voice on her voicemail spoke before I did, “Your recording has stopped. If you’d like to delete press 1. Continue, press 2.” I pressed 2 and said what I’m sure the first 10 voices she heard after her father’s death said, “I’m so sorry (of course). I’m here if you need me (What could she possibly need me for? I can’t bring her dad back). I hope you’re doing ok (how on earth could she be doing ok?). I wish I was there to give you a hug (but I’m not).” I hung up. I felt useless.
I still haven’t talked to my friend. I sit here with bronchitis having had to cancel my trip to her dad’s wake and funeral. I received a tear filled, very short message from her asking me to call her back which I will do tomorrow. One more day to think of the right words.
Do I sound selfish? Selfish for feeling sorry for myself for not knowing what to say? I know it’s not about me… I just know if it WAS me, I don’t think I’d want to hear any words. I’d want quiet. I’d want a hug. And I’m not there to give it to her.