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Clear blue sky

Well, it finally happened. Something came straight out of the clear blue sky and hit me so hard and so quickly it left me breathless.

With Dad's memorial service a mere four days away, you can imagine there are a lot of arrangements to be made. A family friend emailed me a question I didn't know the answer to, so I decided to give Mom a quick call.

I tried her cell first, as she mentioned she would be out doing errands this afternoon, but it went straight to voice mail. So I tried her at home, knowing she would check the machine when she got back (yes, they still have an answering machine. It's adorable).

So there I sat in my office cube, listening to the phone ring, probably examining my fingernails or something, when I father's voice.

I had completely forgotten that he recorded their outgoing message.

A jolt of electricity shot through my body. I couldn't breathe. I actually held the phone away from my ear, looking for...what? His face? I don't know. It took two tries before my shaking thumb could press the disconnect button. There was no way I could say a word, let alone leave an entire message for my mom.

But the panic--if that's what it was; I'm still not really sure--wouldn't subside, so I tried to calm down enough to make it down the hall to a colleague's office (with that most precious of workplace commodities: a door). I barely made it over the threshold before falling completely apart. Fortunately my colleague was there with tissues and a few calm words, and it didn't take her long to talk me off the ceiling.

But WOW. I know that's not the last time something like this will happen, not by a longshot--but because it was the first time, I was completely unprepared for the sheer enormity of this tsunami of grief.

And that's really what it felt like: the water sucked out to sea and me wandering out onto the wet sand, looking at the pretty starfish, when I suddenly realize something's blocking the sun--and I look up to find it's a wall of water screaming toward me and there is absolutely no way I'll be able to get away from it. So all I can do is hold my breath, let it wash over me, and wait until I can swim back to the surface to see that clear blue sky again.

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