Its not very often that even I come to a loss of words. I had every intention of sitting down to hammer out a blog post about the last year of my life. About changing jobs suddenly, about being unemployed, about worrying for money… how Wrangler has been, how my family is to me… reconciling the ghosts of girls past… I figured maybe it was time to look forward with one descent look back. May 14th was the day I was officially ousted from Menards after all. True May Day spirit. Yet life gets in the way sometimes.
Then a few weeks ago I ran into a friend of mine from school. Wrangler and I were out walking, and saw a blonde woman with a child and two dogs on leashes; I opted to cross the street and keep Wrangler moving… but by the time he and I got to the middle of the street, a soft voice called out to me. I recognized the her before I looked up. JH was probably the happiest, outgoing person I’d ever met. She hadn’t changed a bit since Kindergarten. Off and on after high school I’d hear from her, or see her best friend on campus at Iowa [JH was a defector and went to Iowa State]. After a while, I noticed she’d gotten married, picked up two Jack Russell’s and then had a son. Life was pretty dandy. I lost track of her for 3 to 4 years; and then I ended up on the same street corner with her.
We talked for a few minutes about things; I looked every part the homeless veteran… my beard was long enough to tuck in my shirt collar, wearing a rumpled fatigue jacket; and she was the light of the world, if I didn’t know any better. Tall, blonde, thin, gorgeous in every way. Her son was interested in Wrangler; and Wrangler doesn’t mind attention. But after about 5 minutes we both knew we had to keep moving on… dogs don’t sit idle on walks you know. We exchanged email, remarked how crazy it was to run into each other like this [being blocks away from where we grew up].
I marked it off to chance. Then marked my chances off. I look like a hobo. I’ve put weight back on I took years to take off. I don’t have much left over income after the bills send out, and even my dog can look pitiful with his eye we cant afford to have surgery for. In the follow days we sent several emails back and forth; and yes, I even got her phone number. She filled me in that she was divorced now, looking to start over and was finishing dental hygienist school. We both thought dinner would be a great idea. Unfortunately that’s as far as it got. Working two jobs is impossible to have a social life. Having a dog that demand attention makes it worse. In the 3 weeks since then, I was trying to clear things out to find a Wednesday night this week to meet up. Then I read Facebook this morning. Her best friend noted JH died this morning. I didn’t know what to say.
I took Wrangler out on our walk this morning; the same Sunday morning walk we had a month ago where I met her. We stopped at the same spot and looked around. I knew better than to expect it to be a sick joke. But we paused one last time to look back, before looking forward. I guess that’s how its supposed to be.
I have no idea what happened. I have the impression this was a known issue, as several comments mentioned seeing her in the hospital recently; but she never mentioned anything to me. In fact, I’d think she was closer to a long and healthy life than I would be. But that’s it. Things aren’t what you want them to be when you look at it like that. Life is about getting out there for the moment and not about putting things off. Looking back at my life this past year, its been quiet and desolate on many fronts. Humbling is a better choice of words. But I’m still looking forward to whatever it is that happens. I just wish JH could see it too.