It is in our nature to look for and sometimes find patterns. It’s humanity’s way of not going completely buggy when we consider the vastness of God, the Universe, and Everything. It is perhaps in my nature to also make meaning from those patterns as my way of finding meaning for myself as a motif in the pattern of life. Sometimes, like this week, our motifs collide in strange and happy ways with those of other people caught in the warp and weft.
This has been a week of old friends. First, a random spam accident that sent a web link to a site on male enhancement products prompted a mass email from me to everyone in my contacts list saying, “So sorry! No comment on your boudoir performance!” That, in reply, prompted an email from my grad school friend, R, whose wedding I had the privilege of attending in India in 2000. We had lost touch and she emailed to say hello. I was so happy to hear from her – I think of her often and my brief stay in her beautiful country, full of heat and color.
Next, another friend, C, from my favorite job in the world (nerd camp counselor) reached me on Facebook. Though I haven’t heard from her for some time, she humbled me with her kind words in the face of my recent layoffs. I look forward to connecting with her more. I hope her daughter, G, who is also a friend, will join us on Facebook to shrink the distances, at least electronically, between us.
I also had lunch with a woman with whom I went to college but shared nothing more than a passing acquaintance. We had a great talk about life, work, and everything. This has become common for me in the last few years – to reconnect with someone from college and discover a friendship or at least the question, “Why didn’t I know about you back then?” We talked about life since school and other things. She has an admirable energy.
In the strangest stitch of the week, I was contacted (again, via Facebook), by two middle school friends. They wanted to tell me that C, my very best friend in grade school, had taken her own life last weekend. I learned this in the morning and the rest of the day was strange. It’s the only word I have – sad, yes, of course, she left behind children and family who loved her, but it’s more. Less? Different.
Though I’d thought of C many times since school, I hadn’t heard from her in years. I’d seen her mother M several times and once had gotten C’s phone number from her. I never called. That seems to be my refrain of the last few days. I never called. I never called. I should have called. What if I had called?
Obviously, I’m not so naive as to think I would have prevented this from happening. And I don’t feel responsible or anything of that sort, but it’s still a niggling little itch. Perhaps, like thinking about what I should wear to the memorial, it’s so much easier to focus on than standing at the edge of the abyss called Why and repeating unanswerable questions into the void. Why did she do that? Why would she? Why was she at that dark place? Why… It’s so much less work to keep repeating the mantra Inevercalled or ponder early-spring church attire.
I will know the answer to why I didn’t call (I believe no one will ever remember me and if they do, probably remembers the OLD me and therefore, will have silly preconceptions that the NEW me will not be able to overwrite…blah blah blah ad nauseum). I will know the answer to what to wear (not only that, but nobody cares anyway). But it’s easier to think of than the alternative.
I sometimes let myself think of her family – her wonderful artistic mother and her little brother who is, I’m sure, not little anymore and now has his own brood to care for. Her children who look so like her it’s like looking at pictures from my own childhood to see them in their grandmother’s online albums.
I want to badly to make a pattern here, to spare myself from standing at the edge of the canyon of the unknown, to have a lesson, a learning, an insight. Maybe the insight is that sometimes I have to simply live with the unknown, bear the uncomfortable, and maybe stand on the rocks of known for the time being.