My husband and I went to a local barbecue joint this evening. As we talked and laughed about the day we’d just spent with our nine-month-old granddaughter, my phone beeped. The PM was from a neighbor. The news was incomprehensible: A young woman who, with her husband, had just relocated to our beautiful Maine island from the Boston suburbs to raise their five-year-old daughter, had died on Sunday.
We had closed on our homes on the same day, one hour apart, just a week-and-a-half ago. Their home is at the end of our cul-de-sac, two doors down. We had both been through hell dealing with the general contractor we had chosen. The four of us — Pam and Fred, Tim and I — had struck up a friendship during the incredibly trying process of getting our homes completed, and were really looking forward to spending some relaxing time together “after we’re all settled in.”
A few minutes before receiving this devastating news, a group of about six had been seated in the booth next to us. They were bitching about the president, how Trump was probably thrilled about the hurricanes (!) because they gave him cover by keeping “the Russia thing” off the front pages … about his tweeting … about how much more money the president should have donated to the victims of Hurricane Harvey (“A million dollars is nothing to him!”) …
I felt like screaming, “REALLY??? THAT’S YOUR BIGGEST CONCERN TODAY? DO YOU HAVE NO LIFE OF YOUR OWN, NO PRESSING PROBLEMS OR JOYS TO TALK ABOUT? WHO GIVES A FUCK WHAT’S HAPPENING WITH POLITICS AND ALL THE REST OF THE BULLSHIT THAT PASSES FOR NEWS THESE DAYS? REAL PEOPLE ARE DYING. REAL PEOPLE ARE HURTING RIGHT NOW. A LITTLE GIRL WHO JUST STARTED KINDERGARTEN IN A COMPLETELY NEW PLACE IS NOW FACED WITH GOING THROUGH LIFE WITHOUT HER MOTHER. WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???”
And then it hit me: We are all “those people.” Every. Single. Day. We get caught up in whatever the hell the media, the political parties, or the people in our communities are buzzing about, sometimes to the point of forgetting what is truly important.
My appetite had left the building and it seemed a good idea for me to do the same. Tim called our waitress over and asked to have our food packed to go. I noticed that “Always Something There to Remind Me” was playing on the radio. I could just barely keep it together long enough to get into the car and out of the parking lot.
Back at home, we picked at our food in silence in front of the TV. I couldn’t even tell you what was on the screen. But I snapped to attention when a commercial came on — again, for what product, who the hell knows? — shocked to hear the same song playing.
I may not have known you long, Pam, but I will always remember you. Rest in Peace, friend.