Sometimes I blurt out something about Kim’s death at an inappropriate time.
I try not to but sometimes I just do.
A couple of days ago Maggie let me know that it bothered her when I did it at the airport when I dropped her off. I actually didn’t think she heard me – but that’s beside the point.
I’ll try not to.
After Elena died I tried not to but every once in a while I’d bring it up inappropriately.
Mostly I’d avoid situations where it might slip out and make others uncomfortable. I didn’t go to high school and college reunions for years.
I imagined people coming up with a big smile and clapping me on the back and asking me what had happened since they saw me last.
“Well, my daughter died.”
Better not to go to the reunion.
Now that Kim has died as well, I think it’s unlikely I’ll ever go to a reunion.
After Elena died I was in an elevator with a famous computer science guy and we chatted a bit and he asked me what had happened since he saw me last.
Let’s just say I mis-calculated the closeness of our relationship and told him.
It was a very quiet and awkward ride to our respective floors.
Last week I had phone calls from two telemarketers. Each asked if they could speak to Kim. I told each of them “no”.
Each asked if there was a convenient time to call her back. I told each, “I’m sorry, ‘no’.”
Each of them pressed me for more information about why they couldn’t call back.
I don’t know why, but I told each of them, “she’s dead. She was killed in a car crash.”
One, calling from a political campaign, was as nice as can be. She said, “I’m so sorry. This must be a very difficult time for you. You are in my prayers.”
I thanked her and we hung up.
The other one was calling from a job recruiter. When I told her Kim had been killed in a car crash she said, “Really? Well, if that’s true then I suppose I’m sorry.”
“If that’s true?” I replied, “If that’s true?”
“Yes,” she said, “I hear all sorts of excuses.
“Please don’t call here again,” I said and we hung up.
If that’s true.
Man is it true.
But, Maggie is right, the people who call us without us asking them to don’t need to know about the family they’re calling.
I took the cable box back on Wednesday to Time Warner.
Rhonda introduced herself to me, took the cable box, remote control, and the internet modem and said, “If you don’t mind me asking, why are you discontinuing your service.”
I said I’d rather not say.
She said, “that’s fine,” and started doing the paper work.
And then I blurted it out.
I don’t know why, but there was something comforting and real about this woman.
I said, “well, my wife died. She watched television and I really don’t watch it that much.”
“Oh my Jesus,” the woman said respectfully, “I’m so sorry.”
And then I told her about the second telemarketer. I told her about the one that said “If that’s true.”
Rhonda said to me, “my mom died when I was 18, in 1978.”
Rhonda is the same age as Kim.
She said, “about two months later I got a call from a bill collector. The bill collector said, ‘we have evidence that your mom is working, you need to pay these bills.'”
She said, “I said to the bill collector, ‘really? You have evidence? You need me to take me to where she’s working because I would love nothing more than to see her again.”
I know I shouldn’t have blurted it out.
But the story Rhonda told me comforted me in a deep way.
It was a momentary connection with someone I will never see again.
It was a moment with someone who decided to stop typing in numbers and see and listen to the person in front of her who was just turning in his cable box.
I love that we live in a world where there are people like that.
It gives me hope.