Thursday, July 24, 2008

Don died today

No joke he really did. Don worked for us as a sales rep for 10 years or so. He was in his mid 50's and basically, I am told, went home from work and pretty much dropped dead an hour later. Don was a crafty expert sales person who did the job with half the work, in half the time and made twice the money most of our sales people do. Knowing Don he would probably be quite pleased with that tribute.

The sales director found me at Kentucky Fried Chicken stopping for a fast dinner before an evening meeting. He asked me to wait there for him and drove over to give me the news face to face. I called my boss in New York and broke the news to him, he committed to fly down for the service, thanked me for the call and asked me to keep him posted. We all expressed our shock, surprise and regret at Don's passing. There was a flurry of phone calls in a burst of urgent energy as we sat there in the car, in the KFC parking lot. Then it was quiet. We are all about the same age, Don and us.

This happens, its happened before, it will happen again and we know the drill up until we get to the quiet part. Once we've done our duty, offered our help and condolences what do we do next when the news is so fresh?

We went to dinner at the mall, to a place with a bar, this day truly qualified as a tough one. We shared stories about Don, his talent, his peculiarities, wondered about his family then slowly drifted off to more general and comfortable topics. We finished dinner and went our separate ways. I bought two pair of shoes 25% off at Dillards as if to say, how convenient that Don died on shoe sale day and I needed some.

I was fourteen when my mother died. It was Saturday, I was home alone. I knew something was wrong because the hospital had called looking for my dad after he left for his regular visit. I heard the creaky garage door open and my dad burst in the back door coming from the hospital and he shouted out "your mother's gone, she's dead" this had happened to him before. I was in the bathroom and he was crying, I had to be strong. I hadn't seen her in weeks, but I made the calls to the family for my father that day. I can only imagine now what they thought and felt with me, a child, making those calls. They were nice.

After that I went to George Frishe's house with another guy to fool around with George's drum set. My dad said it was OK, Mrs. Huth the neighbor lady and some other people were at the house by then. I told my friends my mom had just died. It got quiet for a time then we went on. It was weird, but it was something to do when I didn't know what to do.

What do we do when someone we are close to dies? I think something pretty mindless and easy with people to quell the fear and the pain. Like play the drums, buy shoes or write a blog post and pretty soon it passes and we know what to do again.

Thanks for reading.

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