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Didn't You Get the Memo?

Last Sunday marked 2 years since Mike's passing.

In these last 2 years, I have continually received mail addressed to him, including a jury summons and an AARP membership card. Of course, there have been the odd credit card offer and product catalogs.

Jury summons
Mike's jury summons in 2022. Fun fact: Mike never served on a jury in his lifetime.

The truth is, Mike receives more mail than our entire household on a daily basis, and it never fails to amuse me how the universe has yet to know, as a whole, that he is no longer with us.

That said, it is one thing for random (and not-so-random) agencies to not know, and quite an entirely different thing for people who actually know us.

This morning I ran into an old friend of Mike's at school drop-off. It's been a number of years since I'd seen him, and it took me a while to recognize him.

But for sure, he recognized Mike's car and me.

"Hey!" he hollered to get my attention, "I didn't know your kids go here!"

It was an inconvenient time. I was in the drop-off line, and he was driving on the side of through traffic. He stopped to greet me and exchange a few lines even when he wasn't supposed to stop there.

We quickly updated each other on who was in what grade, along with a general acknowledgement that we need to catch up another time.

"Tell Mike to call me!" he said, as he made to roll up his window.

"Oh," I answered, "I'm sorry. He passed away two years ago."

I don't have to tell you that, like everyone ambushed with similar news, he was rendered speechless for a beat or two. But, like everyone else, he quickly recovered and offered his sincere condolences.

Then we said goodbye.

As I drove away, it occurred to me that, for the first time, I felt okay after sharing this news with someone who knew Mike. It didn't feel awkward. And I wasn't upset afterwards.

In fact, I even thought to myself, "How lucky that he got to live these last couple years imagining that Mike was still in this world."

That somehow, there was a version of Mike that still walked and talked and lived among us, even if it was just in Brian's imagination. This Mike didn't get COVID, and Brian didn't have to ride the rollercoaster that we were on, not knowing, from one moment to the next, if Mike was going to make it. He didn't have to experience the final letdown. The shock and misery that crushed even Mike's casual acquaintances.

For all that Brian knew, Mike might have been banging on his drums at that very moment we were touching base.

It was a strange thing to be genuinely comforted by this.

I was glad for him.

Trust me, I don't even know if this line of thinking -- this alternate universe rumination -- makes sense.

But this is where my mind went as I calmly drove away today.

And I was struck by how far I've come in this difficult journey.


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