17 years ago
On Thursday, December 16th, Frank was in a querulous mood as he got ready to go to work at Security Square Mall. He couldn't seem to get himself together, muttering that it was time he retired from that security position, and piddle-fiddling around. I lost my patience with him, as I was standing next to the door to see him off - I always kissed him good-bye and told him that I loved him as he left, but that morning? I finally told him we would talk about it when I got home from work, then walked away to go and take my shower. It was an ordinary day at work, and at 1:35 PM, I wasn't in my office, I was upstairs talking to my direct report in her office about Loan Operations when the switchboard operator paged me and asked me to call her. I asked Janice if I could use her phone, and called the operator. Seems like a police officer had tried to call my extension and got my voice mail. I wrote down his number and called back immediately. He didn't have much to say -- just gave me the number of a doctor and told me to call her about my husband. I put the phone down and started dialing the number he giave me, and when Janice asked me if there was anything she could do, told her to "get Kevin" [my boss and friend]. When Kevin got up there, he sat down and just listened as I talked to the doctor, who was being strangely reticent about giving me any information, just kept repeating that I needed to come to the hospital. Finally, rather exasperated, I asked "are you trying not to tell me on the phone that my husband is dead?" I remember the cold chill as she fell silent. I remember Kevin's eyebrows flying up. I remember how quietly she answered. I remember repeating in a disbelieving voice, "Frank's dead?"
He had been dead for hours. Frank hadn't updated the contact information for me at his workplace and they didn't know how to reach me until finally his boss thought to break into his locker at work, retreived his cell phone, and found how to contact me. That entire morning, while I had been going about mundane tasks, my entire life had changed and I didn't know it.
Kevin tried to stop me from driving to the hospital alone; I brushed him off. I remember calling my daughter at work. I remember she told me later that when she picked up the phone and heard my voice, her first thought was flippant "well who died? your mother or Frank" and then being horrified as she realized that both was a possiblity. She immediately left work to come to the hospital. I remember calling Billy and Cheryl at their workplaces. Billy was working at Ritz Camera and the person who answered the phone tried to tell me he was too busy to come - I told him it was an emergency. Cheryl answered the phone. I remember telling them that there was no good way to say that their father had died.
That is why I don't try to work this week, why I travel on this day, to distract myself.
The rest of the next couple of days are a blur, but dear God, I remember Thursday, December 16th, 1:35 PM, and I cry. I cry because on the one day it counted, I didn't kiss him goodbye when he left and tell him that I loved him. I cry because I miss him, yes even though it has been 17 years.