February 8th, 2012
I knew it was over when he told me he’d been killed. I received the email at work, the Monday after Thanksgiving, a day usually reserved for catch-up and slowly easing into the week. I grabbed my coffee from the break room like I always did first thing and settled at my PC, ready to attack the hundreds of emails that had piled up over five days. The subject line — “Sad News” – caught my eye first, nestled between “Editorial Request” and “Revisions Requested.”
I opened “Sad News” straightaway.
The email came from his wife and recounted in painful detail how my close friend had spent Thanksgiving at a shelter serving meals to hungry people. Toward the end of my pal’s shift, an angry homeless man pulled out a knife and stabbed my friend to death.
She went on to write that he always put himself before others and what a terrible waste this death was and how she’d miss him.
I sat in shock for several minutes. I’d known Dave for years, he’d been a good, good friend and confidant. Although he was married, he’d once confessed a crush, and I pulled back. Then I moved 2,000 miles away and we resumed our talks and friendship at a safe distance.
His death hit me hard, for about five minutes. At which point, something nagged. His wife sounded so…distant and somewhat unaffected by her husband’s bloody demise. So I did what shocked people might do when refusing to believe someone they care for is gone — I picked up the phone and called him.
The whole thing had been a joke.
See, I can take jokes like any other person. Better maybe because I’m always ready for a laugh. This, however, felt evil. I couldn’t get past it, how he let me believe he was dead, even for a second, for a joke.
Some might argue he wanted to see how much I cared for him, to put a test before me, to know I’d miss him if he were gone. Yet I felt manipulated by his lie. It was invasive and cut to the soul of me.
I’m forgiving too, sometimes to a fault.
But there are some things I can’t get past.
So on that day, the Monday after Thanksgiving, he really did die.
(This is for PROMPTuesday.)
(And it’s true.)