Someday Your Life Will Flash Before Your Eyes So Make It Worth Watching

Watching the Thanksgiving Day parade with my friend Bob and his family in 2011

I throw up in my mouth a little as I quote this because it came from a Lexus commercial.

But sometimes the universe speaks to you, and today it spoke to me because my friend Bob died this afternoon.

A few weeks ago he had flulike symptoms.  But on Halloween, in the middle of the Hurricane Sandy aftermath and after a round of routine blood work, his doctor told this fairly healthy man to go to the ER because his blood counts were so dangerously low.  Turns out he had an acute form of leukemia and had to stay in the hospital for chemo and bone marrow transplant.

Everyone knew it was serious, but we all thought there would be enough time to know which direction fate was sailing.  Besides, he looked great and had high spirits.

***

His wife and I had dinner last night.  We exchanged random school gossip over sushi at an overpriced UES restaurant stocked with top shelf liquor and too much plastic surgery screaming for attention at the bar.

It was supposed to a respite from the hell she was dealing with.

***

But this  evening at 6:48, my husband called my cell to tell me Bob was gone.  As a result of the intense chemo, he got an infection this morning and declined throughout the day.

It occurred to me that while my friend was dying (unbeknownst to me) I was doing the following:

  • Lying to my husband that I wouldn’t take a taxi to drop my son off at school.
  • Missing a coworker’s baby shower and not caring enough that I wasn’t there.
  • Having coffee with an editor and musing about Le Pain Quotidien’s idiotic absence of handles on their coffee cups.
  • Complaining about the premature Christmas music at the Korean nail salon.
  • Letting an arrogant colleague get under my skin over a Powerpoint slide.
  • Debating whether I was 3 or 5 minutes late picking up my son with the school administrator.
  • Realizing my son needs a hair cut.
  • Feeling virtuous about pushing my way to the back of the bus.

***

And then, the call.

I dropped my grocery bags on the sidewalk, knelt down and told my son that his friend’s dad had died, while he tried to avoid eye contact.

I didn’t pretend to make sense of this for him, because it doesn’t makes sense to me.  The only thing I knew for sure to tell him was that death is a part of life.

All we really know is that what we have is right now.

So in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I am raising an early glass to my friend Bob and being thankful for the “right now”.  And all the messy wonderful that has been my life to date and the people in it.