I went with P to the gym this morning at nine. I normally go two or three times a week, after work, because it's convenient to stop on my way home. But I hadn't been since Thursday, and since she goes most mornings, it was easy to say yes, let's do this healthy thing together to start the week.
It was okay. J, the manager, a sweet bear, was of course shocked and genuinely saddened when I told him about Randy; I had brought along his gym contract to be canceled. I don't know why I wrote genuinely; it's not like I have some Grief-o-Meter I'm whipping out in these situations. I can say that it's hard work, the telling, even if it's "just" to your gym manager. Regarding Randy's membership, J said "I'll take care of it" and I said "And I'll go work out"--and though I had trouble breathing through the more intense parts on the ArcBeast, I held on, held out, and kept my pace.
Then it was off to tell our friend A, which meant I had to go to her place of work, which I hated to do, but P had said the obit was already out in the online version of the local paper, and I did not want A to find out that way. On the drive over, I thought to risk FM augury once more--the station was playing Miss Kelly Clarkson's monster hit, and I'm happy she's such a success and all, but: Something something last laugh/ Something something other something/ What doesn't kill you makes you STRONGER--
Well, fuck that.
I felt like Death himself waiting for A to come out from the back of the store. I wanted some way to warn her. I had turned away from the counter and could feel my face beginning to rupture. Her cheery greeting didn't help. I tried to put everything into my face as I turned to look at her: this is bad, oh honey this is going to hurt, please prepare yourself now because this is going to really fucking hurt.
I can't imagine being one of those military officers who show up with the telegram. As much as it hurt to recount what I had to, all I wanted to do was absorb her wracking pain. How do people do this? How had I forgotten that, in the middle of traffic (such as it is in our town), in the grocery store, on my very block, there are people in agony over their private losses?
A couple of weeks ago, I was telling my friend Amber about an NPR interview with Carlos Santana--part of it, anyway, that I'd caught on my way to work. The phrase that stood out was when he said he approaches people with the same greeting--internal or externally voiced, I don't know; I imagined it was something he just set in his mind as he encountered each individual: I am a reflection of your light.
Holding A's hand, steadying ourselves, I said: It's all about love.
We'll get through.
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