I got to sleep in today. Yay for sleep ins! So when I rolled out of bed at 11:00am, I was feeling fresh and relaxed and oh-so-happy. It makes a nice change from the grumpy, cranky, desperately-in-need-of-a-few-more-hours-sleep Benji that appeared out of my room all week.
So I chucked on some shorts and an un-ironed Tee, found my havvies and headed up to the servo to grab the Sunday Mail (hardly worth the walk, but I like to read something as I have my morning coffee).
As I was getting close to the gates of my complex (there's about 50 or so townhouses and we're right at the back) I saw one of the cute young guys that seem to inhabit the place pacing up and down outside his unit.
When I got closer I could see that he was on his mobile and was having a friendly chat. "... So it was a big night then? Yeah sounds like fun. Sorry I missed it."
Sounded just like a normal morning after debrief between mates where one didn't get their act together in time, so missed out on some of the night's entertainment.
Been there, done that.
But the conversation continued...
"Hey, um, the reason I called is that my mum died last night, and I can't make it today."
My heart sunk for the poor guy. From the way his tone changed, this wasn't the first person he'd told today, and there was potentially a lot more that he needed to call. His voice cracked a little bit, but I didn't hear anything else because I sped up to give him his space.
It's the type of phone call that I fear having to make. I've been very lucky in my life that I haven't experienced much death. I've only been to four funerals, and they, of course, were not much fun at all.
When my maternal grandfather died from a massive heart attack a few years ago, I was the first of the three children to make it back to mum and dad's place after hearing the news. I walked in to hear mum on the phone to someone relaying that exact same conversation.
When I looked at her phone book she was only up to the D's, so she still had a long way to go. But you could hear that from the tone of voice that she'd relayed the bad news many times, and that she had already become versed in accepting people's condolences and kind wishes.
After she ended that call and we had a bit of a cry together, she asked me to help call some of her friends, as she couldn't face telling those ladies.
So I made the call to her three best friends. It was the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. How do you tell a casual acquaintance that some one has died suddenly? I'm not sure how the words came out of my mouth, but I got the message across.
I still remember Caroll (who is my favourite non-aunty 50 year old woman) immediately becoming suspicious when she answered the phone;
"You never call me. What's wrong? Shit, is your dad OK?" she asked. When I explained what had happened and that mum needed some help with the calls she said, "Fuck! Tell her she's a stupid bitch and I'm coming over now to help". (You can see why I like this woman).
And she barrelled through the front door 10 minutes later with two bottles of wine and promptly took mum out the back to have a chat.
I didn't have to make anymore calls after that, and I hope its a long time before I ever have to make another one. My folks are still young, but you can't pretend its never going to happen.
As I walked back down from the servo with my paper and a bottle of coke zero, I saw the cute guy sitting on the bench outside the pool gate. Just sitting, staring.
I caught his eye and gave him a nod and a smile, and he smiled back. But you could see in his eyes that he was hurting.
Then his phone rang, and he had to start it all again.