I know who I want to be when I grow up. I've known for a while. She's one of my mom's best friends and her name is Carolyn.
We've been trying to put together a trip to Charleston, SC for a couple of years- me, my mom, and Carolyn. Never seems to work out. This year turned out to be a bust because Carolyn got diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. She's tough, though, dealing with chemo the same way she deals with everything. Practical humor and keeping her cards close to the vest except for a very select group of supportive friends that she knows are as tough as she is and won't get sucked down in her drama. Today is her last day of chemo. We've all been holding our breath and praying a lot.
Carolyn has an important job. She's the secret keeper. You can tell her the dirtiest, darkest, career ruiningest, marriage wreckingest secret you know. Ten years later, even if all parties are deceased and no harm can be done, Carolyn still won't have told a soul.
Carolyn's kids are my age-ish. Her oldest son, Frank, was my first homecoming date. He was taller than me so he qualified. Prior to the eighth grade homecoming dance, most of our interaction involved the annual innertube down the river trip and occasional visits to their farm where Frank and his younger brother Avery threw dried out cow pies at me and my sister. They weren't being tacky, they just thought it was fun. Susan is the youngest of the clan and wisely avoided her brothers. She hovered on the edge of the action and enjoyed the respite of having a different set of targets in the vicinity. Susan grew up to be the only one that a yankee wouldn't immediately assume was a redneck.
It's been years since I've seen any of the kids. I keep up with them through Carolyn. I know how many children they have but not their names, what stresses they have in the marriages, their strengths and shortcomings. Carolyn has a special way of talking about even her near and dear that doesn't sugarcoat anything but doesn't paint them in a bad light. She sees the truth of things and works with that.
Frank died last night.
Avery was in the car in front of him. He saw Frank lose control of the vehicle on a bridge and get ejected from the car. In classic Frank form, he never wore a seatbelt.
The only thing I can think to hope for today is that Carolyn is insulated by shock. For the first time, I hope that chemo knocks her on her ass so she can sleep through the next week. Her friends and family can set out the casseroles, answer the phone, haul her bleary, drugged self to the funeral, and cry for her while she's sleeping. Avery and Susan can entertain Frank's four kids. I don't know who will run the Greyhound bus business. It was a family business and Frank was the current patriarch in charge. Avery never wanted it.
I can't stand it. Today is going to be one of those "I wish I were anywhere but here, in any moment but this" days.