Sometimes when you get that eerie feeling that something is just not right, they call it deja vu, which is French for “already seen.” It was New Year’s Day 2008 and my buddy called me at around 11:00 in the morning. Not necessarily unusual, but 11 in the morning on New Years Day triggered something in me that this wasn’t a Happy New Year 2008 call. I should tell those voices to shut up sometimes, because I was right.
When I listened to the message a few hours after, the message was not only shocking but devastating. My buddy’s Dad, while trying to shovel snow after another frosty and heavy snowfall here in the Midwest, collapsed in the garage after finishing the shoveling. For those of you not from the Midwest it is not uncommon for people to have cardiac events as a result of shoveling snow due to past medical history and the physical exertion that comes from shoveling heavy snow in January. But it is uncommon when someone you know and that is close to someone your close to has a heart attack from shoveling snow.
I was coming up on the 2nd year anniversary of my Dad’s passing and it brought back floods of painful memories knowing what hsi family has to go through, as we went through the same thing as a family just two short years ago. I immediately called him and he was calm, talking rational and matter-of-factly as we talked briefly. My last words to him that day were simply, “Tell me what I can do.”
When I went to the viewing, the strength and courage of all of the family members was unbelievable. His mom got up and said some very moving words about her late husband and I was so impressed at the resolve of her and the whole family. But I was focused in on my buddy. He was organizing, leading, greeting family and friends, sharing stories, making sure everyone was doing OK. After observing for two hours, I finally got to talk to him and see how he was doing. I looked at him and said, “I now understand what I looked like when this happened to me and you are doing a great job holding the family together. He truly was the “glue” at that time that held his family because that was his role. He grieved in his own way, privately, and without a lot of emotion. Sure he had his good times and bad times like we all do when we are getting adjusted to somethiing as shocking as this. For the first time though, I saw what things were like as they were going on in real time on January 29, 2006. It was truly deja vu. I could almost hear the conversations going on between family members as if I was right there but not participating.
I had a lot in common with my buddy before but this is something I never wanted to say we had in common. Yet for all of our similarities this is one that will last forever. He did an absolutely amazing job of stepping up to the plate when called upon and that is really all we can ask out of anybody when a tragic event in life happens this way. He taught me that the way I handled things when my Dad passed away was the right way because it was my way. Everybody does things differently, but the situation is still the same.
This time in an odd way, deja vu was good, and it help me better maintain closure when my Dad passed away. To both of our Dads, we still miss you…
Always a friend to listen…
Eric Tomei-I Miss My DadTags: grief, hope