Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The Mighty Abyss
You know how it is when someone close dies. You mull over the times. Revisit. And try not to speak ill of. E was a strange bird indeed. I don't think she allowed herself closeness or intimacy.
Twenty years ago, I remember flying to South Carolina with her for a retreat in the mountains near Asheville. A gorgeous spot. I'd had a huge argument with my man of the time in the morning. He had said he was going to drive me to the airport to meet E before boarding. In the morning he said he was too tired, go get a cab. And I went spare. He sullenly drove and I made the airport just in time for boarding. I remember not sharing what had transpired with E and faking normal. The trouble with people who don't share with me is that I usually feel like a crazy lunatic if I do share: the eyebrows, the long stare, the h'ms, as if such derangements were your peculiar dysfunction and certainly never happened to them.
I had all these gift certificates for a car rental, courtesy of another client. So we rented a car at the airport and E insisted on herself taking the first driving shift through the Blue Ridge Mountains. I didn't argue, though I was feeling slightly miffed as I had paid for the car, certificates notwithstanding. When I feel miffed I feel small, and ask myself why are you making a big deal out of this?
It was a long drive and after a coffee/pee break, she got back behind the wheel in spite of my friendly "my turn to drive now?" The weekend was great, I reconnected with some old friends and the workshops were powerful and memorable.
So we leave the retreat and E, who had not given up the key to the car, gets into the driver's seat. I say (very nicely) "It's my turn to drive."
"No," she says, firmly and clearly, "It's mine," and started the car.
I debated this. Get into a whine of: you drove ALL the way here, my turn, my turn!
But I let it go, I did. Because, surely, how important was it?
But truly, it was symptomatic of everything she did. She had to be in charge, in control, running things. I gave up having dinner with her on Wednesday nights in downtown Toronto, as I realized I'm not built for the kind of superficiality she represented. Her Blackberry, for instance, was constantly under the table sucking her attention. I let her go as a client about 4 years ago, mainly because of the stress she engendered in me by leaving everything to the last minute and not heeding my gentle/and or humorous reminders.
Her death was quick and unexpected. The vicious tentacles of an aggressive cancer which she kept hidden from most who knew her.
E was a good woman. That I know. Nobody is black and white as Hollywood likes to depict. We are all a mighty mix of oddity and occasional profundity with our inner demons bouncing around for attention.
E did her best as we all try to do. She was generous and kind in many areas. As long as she was in charge. But people like E leave us with many unanswered questions about the complexity of human nature.
And now I'm wondering who's next?