My phone pinged this morning, whilst I was still deep in slumber.
This is not a surprising thing to occur, as my phone pings all the time. The unusual bit is that the sound was enough to gently nudge me out of my nocturnal dreamland. Due to the annoying patterns of my own brand of insomnia, I sleep hardest during the last few hours before the dreaded alarm on said phone forces me to arise and reconnect with the human race. I never hear simple pings during that time.
But this morning I did.
I fumbled for my phone, buried as it was and usually is under the blankets with me. (Yes, I sleep with my phone. I once missed a very critical phone call and I’m still not over the eventual tragedy of that miss. I hear the rings in my sleep, just not the pings.) I brought the phone up to my bleary eyes, my mind still in first gear, fading images from my latest dream throwing things off kilter in that reality-slip of awakening.
I had a notification from Facebook that a friend had just posted an update. I nearly threw the phone back down, as I’m so rarely on that platform that their cryptic algorithms generally result in random and unimportant notifications about nothing. But then I noticed that this update was from my friend Bruce. I had just private-chatted with him not too long ago, wherein he had asked for my mailing address so he could send me a little something. I gave it to him, comfortable in doing so because, although we’ve never physically met, we’ve been friends for many years. I just assumed he was sending something clever and funny, because he has a great sense of humor. So, I clicked on the notification.
Bruce’s post had me fully awake, instantly. He was sharing that he was finally in a place where he could let everyone know that his wife had passed in July.
My heart slipped sideways.
Because although Bruce and I are friends, and I think he’s a really swell guy, his wife and I were once as close as digital friends can be in this odd biosphere of social media. Tammy and I would “talk” every day, an endless stream of comments and photos and private messages and story-collaborations and hopes and dreams. We talked about everything, we talked about nothing, and we talked about the four of us getting together and doing it up right.
But we never did meet, which is often what happens in the odd biosphere. And we eventually drifted apart, another sad bit of fallout in the biosphere. No one means for it to happen, it just does. Life intervenes, comments are missed, connections become tenuous and slow-suddenly voices become distant, slow-echoing into quietude.
I yanked myself out of bed and staggered into the room where Partner does his “work from home during the Pandemic” thing. He knows both Bruce and Tammy, and he knew the significance Bruce’s post would have for me.
Partner: “Did you see…”
Partner: “You need to respond.” (He’s good with pushing me to do the right thing.)
Me: “I know. I just can’t right now.”
So, I spent the next few hours piddling with this and piddling with that and making up crap to do so that I didn’t have to take that next step. I even hopped in the car and motored off to buy cat food, partly because we always need it but mostly because I seized the opportunity to delay. As I returned and pulled into the driveway, I spied a package left on the front porch. I just assumed it was something for Partner, as he’s a big fan of buying it cheaper online and having it delivered.
Once back in the domicile, and after more rounds of piddling, I mentioned to Partner that he had something on the porch. I went with him while he retrieved such, not sure why, as I usually leave such up to him. He opened the door, plucked up the package, made an odd face, and then he showed me the return address.
It was from Bruce (and Tammy). To me.
My heart slipped again.
What kind of cosmic confluence had all of this happening on the same day?
I couldn’t open it then. Because I had an idea what might be in that box. (Nothing morbid, mind you, should your mind go in that direction.) There is a long backstory potentially involved, and I might very well be wrong, but my slipping heart both fears and relishes the contents of the package.
I set the box on a chair in the front room.
And there it still sits, as I type in another room.
I will open it, soon. Just… not right now.
In Bruce’s update, his closing comments included the life-celebrating words “No mourning.” That’s exactly what Tammy would have wanted. And although I’ve veered into the mourning aspect in an understandable violation of that directive, I’m going to pull up my socks and do the right thing. Which means that my next few posts will involve a delightful shining star that most of you have never met, but you should have. We should always raise high what is worthy, and I will do so with trembling but determined arms.