A man I used to love is dead.
My best friend called me last night to let me know.
I was in San Francisco, at a work party in the De Young Museum, in the Picasso exhibition by myself (well, a room full of people, but with no one I knew) when she called. I was in a wheel chair (two broken feet don’t do well at an event based on walking) so once I answered the phone I was pretty much stuck, because you can’t run off to a quiet corner when you don’t have to hands to push).
It was shocking. When my husband came up moments later I couldn’t even talk to tell him what had happened.
I haven’t talked with my ex in years. It was an ugly break up, and frankly he was fairly awful to me the last year we were dating. But when I heard he was dead, I didn’t remember that part. I just remembered the parts of him that I loved. There is some overlap of the good parts of the ex with some of the good parts of the husband, which I think made it so easy to feel the pain. Don’t know if that makes any sense.
I have a problem with acid reflux, which (with drugs and diet) I have under control, but last night I kept waking up with stomach acid in my throat. Which is a giant “I’m feeling very stressed” sign.
When I woke up this morning, it occurred to me that I couldn’t remember what he called me. The first name I used in school or the one I used in my career. How could I have dated someone for five years and not remember what they called me? I finally figured it out, but only by calling up memories of what his friends called me at the time. How weird to not really remember that, to have to do archeology on my memories to figure it out.
I found an article on line this morning with details on the accident. Horrible. And actually what my husband thought had happened when I told him I was shocked that the ex was killed in a car accident, since he was the best driver I’ve ever known (and also because he was an ass about letting anyone else drive, so I totally assume he was driving, not his wife). The tanker truck crossed the road and jack knifed into his car.
The ex’s family used to have a station wagon, and their dad wondered how fast it could go. So he loaded up the entire family in the car, and then found an empty straight stretch of road and got it up to 135 mph. When I asked why his dad put the entire family at a certain amount of risk, the answer was, “Well, he thought the whole family should be together, in case there was an accident, so the whole family would go together.
Which is a sick way to live and treat your family. But the ex grew up with this man’s logic and didn’t seem to feel it was a form of abuse to have his dad think his family was better off dead than without the all mighty father to lead them. I wonder if the father is thinking it is good they all died together?
My best friend thought about how horrible it would be for the family, having to go and deal with the house – with everything this family owned. And I thought about the roses – the roses his mother tended in pots for years in her garden. That, after she died, he took and planted in his yard. I saw them once when I drove by, still in their pots. And later, when they had been transplanted to the ground and had begun to thrive. Even though I no longer liked him, I thought – how lovely! He has part of his mother with him. And it made me happy. And now? Who is going to love the roses?
I feel like the shock is beginning to wear off. I mean, it is still shocking, but I can feel my brain beginning to function again.
But, really, what am I supposed to feel right now?