Before I start here, I just want to say that this is not a writing blog post. It’s a little more personal than that, but it’s an interesting story and not the sort of story you can make up, so I’m going to toss it out there.
Yesterday, while I was at work, I learned that an old friend from college had passed away suddenly in her sleep. I’m 37 and she was 36. This sort of thing just doesn’t happen to people of our age, does it? I mean, when I’m in my 80s, well yeah, that shit is going to happen. It does when you get old. It still sucks, but it’s also a part of life, it’s just not something you expect when you’re in your mid 30s. My friends are still having kids for crying out loud.
When I first read the texts I thought it was maybe another famous person. It didn’t register that it should be the person that I had known by that name. Nope. It was one in the same. Now, I wasn’t close friends with her, and neither was my wife. We hung out, had coffee and chatted – the usual stuff you do in college. My wife’s history with her went back further into high school. Now, none of this alone is so poignant or significant. After all, we live in a sparsely populated state. The saying runs something like: If you don’t know someone, you know someone that does. To wit, I once visited former Governor Bill Scheffield’s house to help him with a computer problem, and attended a funeral with former governor Tony Knowles, I even once attended a 4th of July parade where I was obligated to shake Sarah Palin’s hand, and had her dad as a substitute teacher more than once. So, to know someone who has passed away is not, in and of itself, an unusual thing here. What makes this so absolutely disturbing is the following story:
Before my wife and I started dating, at the age of 19, she was trying to get my attention. She stalked me, invited me up to her room to check out her Christmas lights, and asked a friend and I to join her for dinner. I’m an idiot, and so none of this really struck me as interested. What finally did it was the Symphony. I was at dinner with the young woman that would some-day be my wife and her friend. They were chatting comfortably and I was in a stupor of exhaustion due to some very intense and competitive nights stealing wooden pallets from teams in other dormitories for our annual bonfire party (we won that year BTW). Anyhow, my someday wife’s friend turned to her and said, I can’t make it to the symphony this weekend, sorry. My someday wife turned to me without missing a beat and asked ‘I have an extra ticket, do you want to go?’ Naturally, I assumed that I was only being asked in order to use up a spare ticket. When my someday-wife arrived to pick me up, she was wearing a dress. In retrospect, this was not a shot across the bow, but a full broad-side. I only know this because getting my wife into a dress these days requires an assurance of a $300 romantic night on the town. Even then, it’s a debate. In any case, the symphony date was the first of many and here we are nearly 20 years later. That, however, is not the point of the story. What is the point of the story is that the woman who died in her sleep yesterday was the very same who had given up her ticket in what I was, and still am, sure was one of the best wing-woman plays of all time.
How is it that the young-woman who helped get my wife and I together could end up dead in her sleep? I don’t know, it doesn’t make sense, and I know that’s life, it’s full of those sorts of things. I still don’t have to like it though do I? Anyhow, I know you’re not around to hear it anymore, but thanks Katie, you bailed on your friend at precisely the right moment in our lives once, I just wish I’d thought to say so sooner.