Presumed Dead

01_25_10.JPGI have an internal panic switch which is automatically activated whenever anyone I love, know, am briefly acquainted with, or maybe even have only heard about on the evening news is not where they are supposed to be. Any and all types of missing people are presumed dead, by me, immediately. 

I have an internal panic switch which is automatically activated whenever anyone I love, know, am briefly acquainted with, or maybe even have only heard about on the evening news is not where they are supposed to be. Any and all types of missing people are presumed dead, by me, immediately. 

If this "missing person" is someone I love, my heart rate accelerates, my hands get sweaty, I tap my toes, and drum my fingers as I wait for the news that the person in question is dead. There is no doubt in my mind that the news will be delivered shortly, and I am an emotional nerve center on overload until my suspicions are either confirmed or denied. 

Last week my coffee guy was missing from his normal daily location. This man is part of my daily life, and as such, not allowed to die. I call him Java and he has been one of my steadfast supporters as I grieved the loss of Phil. He is one of those people who just lets you be how and who you are...every single day. So, when he was not at his shop, I assumed he was dead. The panic sequence began, and I was a nervous wreck until I found him working on reorganizing his shop to meet new health code regulations. As soon his frame came into view I yelled out the window..."Java, I thought you were dead!" And because he knows me, he laughed and said, "I am right here, haven't I already told you I am not going anywhere?" Whew. That one lived.

As I was recounting the whole drama to Michael later in the day he asked why I came to the conclusion that the ONLY logical explanation for Java's absence was his untimely death. As I started to explain, I found myself fighting tears....

"The reason I assume everyone is dead when I can't find them is that one day four years ago a woman I didn't know called me from the side of the road to tell me my husband had been hit by a car. Even while I was rushing to the scene of the accident the thought that Phil would die never occurred to me. I was completely unprepared when his heart stopped. I felt cheated. Unfortunately, I am no longer naive to the fact that people die, every single day. And rarely does anyone expect it, so I refuse to walk around with rose colored glasses assuming everyone is alive! AND you should probably get used to it because I don't think I will ever get over it!"

Poor man. My soliloquy reminded me (and Michael too!) that after Phil's accident my concept of who dies, and when, was permanently changed. I am acutely aware that people die too young, accidents of all kinds happen way more often than most people realize, diseases kill people both quickly and slowly, and it is indeed possible to be shocked by your loved ones death even if you have been "expecting" it for days, weeks, months, or years. Most of the time I wish I didn't know all of this useful information, but understanding the fragility of life somehow grounds me. I find it nearly impossible to take life for granted. 

So, this is my reality...if I love you, and you are missing, I will assume you are dead. I will try very hard not to freak out, or have a heart attack myself while waiting for news of your whereabouts, but I am not promising anything.


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