It was one of those Twilight Zone types of days, with me as Burgess Meredith sitting on the steps of a ruined library, the last man on earth, and my glasses break just as I'm about to sit down and read all the classics I never had the chance to read during my busy life. Like Mr. Bemis, it seemed as if I was the last man on earth. Except for the usual spammers, I hadn't gotten a single email either unsolicited or in response to one I'd written. I'd lost followers on Twitter, including one I was still following. No interaction to anything I'd said there, no donations yet on my Indiegogo account, no hits here, my tooth began acting up and the only thing, it seems, that didn't happen to me today was getting hit by lightning in today's storm and that was only probably because I was cowering indoors... Basically, it was the world's way of saying, "Shut the fuck up and die already."
Fine, I said, giving the finger back to the world, with English, realizing shit like this comes in fives or tens (Shakespeare said "they come in battalions") and never stops until the sun goes down. "I fucking hate you, too, you ungrateful asshole."
Then Mrs. JP and I are sitting at the kitchen table a half hour ago and she tells me, "Holy shit, Cousin Deirdre's dead!" Her husband found her on the floor, a sight no spouse should have to come home to see.
I won't reveal her surname until her husband says it's OK but she was a friend of Pottersville, a friend to Barb and a friend to me. We'd go on these texting jags that would drain both our cell phones' minutes. Like Barb's big sister Susan. she'd often send three or four at a time and she'd have me in stitches. She hated Chris Christie, Mitt Romney and was a good liberal. We'd gotten into the habit of exchanging Christmas cards over the last couple of years. We'd find ones with great lead images and write our own anti-conservative captions and crack each other up again. We'd text each other after getting them and wish each other a happy holiday just to piss off Bill O'Reilly.
We called her "Cousin Deirdre" for several reasons.
Her untimely death (she was in her 50's, about our age) immediately shamed me. Here, I thought I was having a bad day. You make new followers on Twitter, your blog has good days as well as bad and bad teeth fall or get pulled out. No big deal.
I've lost good friends before. The mother of my kids died 20 years ago at 30 from cancer. My friend Jerry suddenly died after plastic surgery. My friend Jackie died months after she had cerebral surgery. And it could be some of my readers and blogger friends over the past 9 years shuffled off this mortal coil without so much as a goodbye. Last June, my former future father in law, one of the finest men I ever met, passed away after a long, productive life.
But this one feels different and it feels so fucking... wrong.
Perhaps it's because this comes at a time in our lives when Barb and I are the most vulnerable. The closest things we have to friends right now are my two sons, whose absence far outweighs their presence (which serves me right) and the former Pinochet henchman downstairs with the karaoke machine (Deirdre would've loved hearing about him). This comes at a time when Barb and I can't afford to lose even long distance friends, especially the exceedingly few who "get" me and my style.
Of course, this isn't about me or Barb. It's about the husband and daughter she left behind. She was the only wife and mother they had. But I can only speak for myself. And, speaking solely for myself, I give a big middle finger to the Grim Reaper and say, "You suck. Do you have to do this all the time and often without warning? Every time I lose a friend, it's always sudden like a sap to the back to the head while you're cutting through an alley shortcut or lighting a cigarette waiting for a bus or..."
Oh and one more thing, World:
Yeah, what I said before? That goes double: Fuck you twice as much.
And to Deirdre: You'd better keep St. Peter honest, you hear? Don't let him get bribed at the Pearly Gates by any more Republicans.