Last week I went “on the road” with Mr. W as he met with various customers around the outer banks area. On Friday night we were on our way to meet one of his customers for dinner when we came upon flashing lights. Fire engines. Ambulances. Cars stopped in unusual angles across the road. I quickly looked away. I do that. I look away when it looks like the spot on the road may be an animal. I’m squeamish that way. But I saw enough to exclaim, “They’re covering him!” Mr. W assured me, “No. There putting a blanket on him to keep him warm. They do that,” because Mr. W knows that I’ll obsess about it. He tried to assure me. It didn’t work. I tried to put it out of my mind, but I was a bit subdued throughout dinner. I couldn’t get the image out of my head. The person was face down, wearing a cream colored shirt and jeans.
The next day I was in the lobby of the hotel and asked the clerk where the local paper could be found. It seems the local paper only comes out three times a week. I told her we’d passed by what looked like a pretty serious accident and I wondered how the people were.
She told me.
“I was on duty last night. We became the staging area. There was a family of eleven people waiting in line at one of the seafood buffets. Two of the family members, a father and son, decided to go across the street [a five-lane highway] to get some souvenirs. They didn’t make it. They got hit crossing the street.”
I stood still for a moment. Then I asked the question I knew the answer to. “Are they okay?” “No,” she said, “The man and his little boy didn’t make it.”
She went on, “The police brought everyone here and we put them in a room and tried to make them as comfortable as we could. The police did their questioning here. Some of the family members saw it happen. Others had their backs to the road. There was a minister here for them.” She sighed and shook her head. I thanked her for the information and left.
I got back to work on Monday to an email telling me that the mother of a coworker died quietly and peacefully, Sunday morning. She was 87 years old and lived a full and happy life. My coworker is an only child who never married and lived with her mother until about a year ago when her mother moved to a nursing home. The memorial service was Wednesday.
While on my way to the outer banks last Thursday, I talked to Sandy who told me Edie was not improving and it would be soon. It would be soon. Too soon. “Should I come back,” I asked. Sandy said she’d keep me up on things via phone. “Stay. Try to enjoy. There’s nothing you could do here but sit and wait. I’ll let you know.” So I stayed and tried to enjoy. It was a beautiful, restful place to be. It was a calm place to contemplate my future without my friend. She lingered until Monday.
I’ve spent the last few days reliving stories about Edie. She was an incredible woman from whom I learned a great deal. I’m going to get all those stories, the Elizabeth Dole story, the dress story, the spit-wad story, up here one day. In the meantime I’m trying to tough out a week of incredible grief. Grief over a family’s loss. Grief over a friend’s loss. Grief over the loss of someone so important to me that I can hardly stand it the thought of laying her to rest tomorrow.
They say God never gives you more than you can handle.
Note to God: I’ve had enough.