They come in the middle of the night. Or in the middle of dinner. Or the middle of the day. Or really, in the middle of nothing.
But they linger long after their arrival, filling throats with acid and stomachs with lead.
Sometimes, they come buffered by expectation.
The phone rings –and you know.
It was inevitable; you were practically waiting for it.
But its inevitability rarely makes it any easier. Or maybe it does.
I’ve gotten both –the expected phone call, the one which comes with its own knowing sigh. Sometimes accompanied by whispers of its blessing.
And then I’ve received that other type –out of the blue, horrific both in its message and its delivery.
There is no easy way to give bad news, horrible news. Of illness and accident. Of life-altering events. Of life-endings.
No way to receive those phone calls, either. Silence, disbelief, anger. Grief.
And the worst of them return to you, with visceral vividness, at the worst of times. Again and again.
Their memory can be reignited by a glance to a calendar page, a line from a song, the breath of an otherwise gentle breeze.
I hate those phone calls. Not only because of the news they bring. Everyone hates bad news. But also, because they hold such power. A ring, the banal tune of a too-chipper ringtone. And then at the other end of the line, awkward phrasing, or incomprehensible utterings choked through tears, or even well-articulated speeches. They all sound the same, the voices usually muted, but the messages blaring.
In those few minutes, seconds often, everything changes.
The world is set suddenly atilt, off its axis. Priorities are cataclysmically shifted –forever. Nothing will ever be the same.
It’s not right and it’s not fair.
My friend who probably believes in more than I do asked today –Why do people die too young and why do kids get sick?
And she waited for an answer –as if anyone had one.
It sucks. Way worse than kids. Way worse than all the day-to-day crap in which we all get mired.
And often news of it all comes through today’s hyperlinked technology –with lightening speed. In a text message or a Facebook post or an IM or machine message.
Or a phone call.
I hate those phone calls.