Now Is When I Start To Feel Really, Really Old And Sad.
A few days after I moved home, I got the rather sad news that the boyfriend (in a few seconds you’ll understand how old saying that makes me feel,) of one of the first girls I ever routinely babysat for died suddenly. In my mind, Caro will always be 8, so it’s quite a shocker for me that she’s A.) On Facebook, B.) My “Facebook Friend” in fact, and C.) She’s nearly 15 and DATING now! Furthermore, she was an active participant in a memory I fondly like to recall as “The First Time My Maternal Instinct Kicked In And I Definitely Knew That If A Stranger Ever Called I Would Beat The Holy Hell Out Of Him To Keep Her Safe” when she snuggled into me as she and I and her older sister sat on her parent’s living room sofa and watched “Mrs. Doubtfire.”
If you didn’t even get that fantastic scary move reference up there, you’re far too young to be reading this, and now I feel really, REALLY freaking old.
So it’s safe to say that as far as I’m concerned, my sweet Caro will always be 8 years old for all eternity, and I am ALWAYS going to want to kick the ass of whatever makes her feel scared, even if it IS Life-with-a-Capital-L or even worse, Robin Williams with a stuffed bra. So it hurts me that she’s hurting so much. I will openly admit I cried as I wrote to her, because, and now here’s the big, very un-humorous reveal— when I was a sophomore in college, one of my dearest friends and ex-love interests also suddenly died at an unfairly young age, and living through the aftermath of life without someone you always assumed would be there for you was NOT fun.
I know there are people out there who are thinking things like, “My childhood bestie and I had a HUUUuuuUUUUuuuUUUUge falling-out after she lost her baby-fat in 9th grade and I didn’t and she started hanging out with the popular girls and I wasn’t included, so I know what that’s lyke and I FEEL YOU, GURRRRLLL!!!” but let me tell you— that’s not the same. At all. And I just wish for you, desperately, that you do not and will never experience the sensation of dialing someone’s phone number automatically because you need them, and then listening to their voice on their answering machine in shock because they didn’t pick up for nearly the first time ever since you’ve known them, and that’s when you realized that you would never hear their particular tone of voice anywhere else again other than trapped for antiquity on a phone line that their parents hadn’t disconnected yet. Because the morning that I got the phone call, that’s what I did— I couldn’t think of anything else to do but call Mike’s number and ask him himself if he was dead or not. But he didn’t answer. And he never did answer again, not then, or the handful of times I called after that, just to hear him.
So I wrote to an innocent, precious little girl, and told her that I know a little of what she feels like, and that if she ever needed to NOT talk about it and go get a smoothie, or to know what life afterwards without them is like, she could contact me. And then I went on wrote on Mike’s still-active FB wall about how he’s taught me so much— both while he was alive as well as after his death— about love and loss and strength and living, and how wonderful it feels, even in such horrible circumstances, to be able to be there for someone else whom I deeply care about, because of what I learned from him.
…Now I am bawling openly.
I feel old. I feel sad. I feel strangely blessed to have loved so deeply that I can feel this way about those things.