Someone could approach my car while I am stopped at this light; I don't necessarily drive through the best neighborhoods as I leave work, and my eyes dart corner to corner, ready to roll through a right on red. I enter a Dunkin Donuts, warily noting places to hide behind, counters to duck beneath if someone were to come in shooting. I leave from dropping the kids at daycare and picture a heart in a chest cavity, beating steadily on until a hiccup or falter.
I sit at work and refresh the status page for the airlines that E is traveling on (a work conference in San Francisco for three nights) dreading a stall in progress, a red banner flashing breaking news of a crash.
All these things - things that happens to someone else, until they happen to you.
Or someone you know.
Last Friday morning, I was sitting in the administrator's office when our daily money talks were interrupted by her cell phone ringing. As usual, I swiped through social media waiting for her to finish her call, but this day - Friday morning, her gasp and warbly 'What??' chilled my veins.
A co-worker of ours - "JT" for sake of ease - died that morning, in a car crash. We hung up, shock settling in the office around us like a fog. We had to call back the news bearer a few minutes later, sure we had heard wrong - asking him to tell us different news, that they'd heard a correction of facts from someone.
And then we had to spend the morning calling in colleagues, one or two coworkers that had known him for even more than the 8+ years that I'd known him. Nearly to a person, the reaction phrases uttered were, "But I just saw him last night as I left the building!!"
Most of Friday was lost in a haze, trying to look up details - had he been in pain? was anyone else hurt? - and wondering how to tell old co-workers that had left and moved on. We learned more details, details of a small crash in a small town on a small road, that
And the suddenness - from vivacity Thursday night (for JT was, in one word summed up, vibrant) to just gone - is the same suddenness which takes away a friend's old high school classmate on the cusp of fatherhood, and the cousin whose Texas ranch we had just visited months before a Christmas tragedy (E
I honestly didn't mean to get all philosophical, because - to be honest - in a little over an hour, I'll go pick up the kids from daycare and give them sweet hugs and kisses as I load them into the car; but then one of the dogs will have crapped in the living room, and while wrangling two leashes and two toddlers outside, Button will clothesline himself on the dog leash (true story, happened last week...) and I'll lose patience when he asks for a cup of juice for the 5th time in 2 minutes and Mack clings to my legs, begging Uh-Puh! as I try to move around the kitchen and organize something, anything for dinner - and I'll probably do chicken nuggets for them and microwaved leftovers for me (unless I just wait to eat until after they go to bed) and I'll breathe a sigh of relief when they've been tucked in for the night...
I've spent a decent amount of time since Friday trying to comprehend just how tenuous life is, and I can't anymore - it's terrifying.
So, just - you know. Grasp it by the horns, stop and smell the roses, dance like no one's watching, enjoy the little things, do what makes you happy - and all those other idioms out there.
We laughed and cried through a small memorial service for JT here at work today. I was ok until another coworker came over and hugged me - I even whisper-yelled at her: "nooooo - I was fine until you came over!" as I quickly teared up, again. But we laughed - we shared stories; I looked at old Christmas party photos, late nights at work when we came together on a project - we definitely laughed.
Laughter is the best medicine - we all agreed with the reverend/pastor/spiritual leader who spoke at the service.
We survived the first full 24-hours of E's business trip. (Ok, yes - I was 20 minutes late for work this morning - too many episodes of Shameless and too many glasses of wine late last night...)
But also last night, I crawled on the floor upstairs, playing the monster as I snarled and tickle-tackled two giggling kids; I let them race around in their underwear/diaper, and I soaked in and sucked up the sights of smooth toddler skin; we laughed - a lot.
My new favorite "Love Life" idiom:
Laugh as much as you breathe