11/24/14

Minutes and Miles . . .

That old cliche . . . death in threes . . . totally true, I fear. In the last month I've gone from not having any even indirect contact with death to experience three deaths - one a direct loss and the other two just one "degree" away.

I'm probably "lucky". My Grandfathers died a long time ago (one before I was born, one when I was not-quite four). My grandmothers fared better (one when I was 12, the other when I was 21). We lived a hundred or so miles away from my Grandmothers. We would go visit every few months or so but it was, I fear, something where they were too far away and too abstract for me to feel like I had a true "relationship" with them. I loved them. I understood who they were. They could both cook, bake, and story tell their asses off. They were both hilarious. They were both smarter and sharper than the average bear. They were both women of a generation that didn't have the same social opportunity that my daughter has. They were miles and miles and hours and hours away.

Fast forward another 17 years and almost a month since my last Grandmother died to an urgent appeal from a friend on Saturday. Their long-ill Grandfather had taken a turn for the worst and they were not expected to make it "much longer". Could they have a ride to the hospice center?

Sure. I said. I immediately turned off my Roku, put down my iPad and ran (literally) out the door. I sped to their house. We got on the road as quickly as possible. We sped all the way to Clearwater (which is one word for NO apparent reason) despite a cell phone telling us to slow down every mile or so and a red light that I treated like the four-way-stop in Clueless and we made small talk about the weather, family, friends, and people we "hate" on social media (I've mentioned I'm emotionally stunted, right? Did you expect much more "alive inside" from my friends?).

We got 18.3 miles covered. We were just down the street and a right hand turn away from a dying Grandfather.

Then the call came in. He was gone. It took us one minute and three seconds to complete the trip.

One mile, one minute and three seconds (if this is the admission of a crime and you want to prosecute, send me a ticket, Clearwater police - I'm good for it).

I was sad for my friend. Just one more heaping of bad news on top of an ice cream sundae of torment, bad news, health and relationship challenges. I was sad for my friend. And I missed my Grandparents. And I wondered how often my daughter sees her Grandparents who live eight miles from her mothers house and I lamented how little she sees my parents who live 1,323 miles from my driveway (current drive time, 20 hours, seven minutes).

I'll go to my third funeral in four weeks on Wednesday. I probably won't cry at this one either. The loss doesn't really feel like mine in any of these instances (even my friend/colleague who I adored (most of the time) and miss many times a day - her parents and daughters deserve the mourning) but I'm going to hug the crap out of my parents when they land in Wichita in six weeks and my daughter is not going to be any more than a mile away from them the whole time (her mother's house is within that distance - relax - we're not doing any kidnapping).