The Next Time
It was the second wake in two weeks that I had to attend; like the first one, this person had succumbed to exactly the same illness as the one before, the difference was that this wake was for Carol McManus, a member of the running community and a respectable race director - someone I knew personally.
George, her husband, smiled at me and said "she loved your race". I shook his hand while I mumbled some condolences that sounded more like an apology for not having been present in her final days. He offered that Carol would not have recognized me anyway in her last days. Yet, that justification did not make me feel better.
I had not been present the last week or the week before, I had not been present at all. Almost everyday in the last two weeks before her passing I thought about e-mailing her; the last time I had corresponded with her, she had told me that her next goal was to make it to spring and that she prayed for me every night. I was going to send her a card but never looked for the address and I postponed calling her, what would I have said?
Illness has a devastating way of not only eating your health away but also of submerging you in a lonely place - illness is a state of loneliness. I prayed that others had found the time, had written the e-mails, had mitigated her isolation in the last days.
While I drove home immersed in my thoughts, I remembered my friend Marc whose call I had not returned until the day when the phone call awoke me, he had suddenly passed away. I cried at the funeral for the good friend I had lost but also I cried for my own ineptitude, for my lack of time, for my neglect. I told his wife and my friend how much I missed him, but I would never be able to tell Marc how sorry I was.
How many times will life shake me and I'll miss its calling…will I do it right one day, will I not wait until I can't wait no more…
Maybe wishing Carol well in the distance and praying for her every now and then was enough, but in my heart I know I could have done better…I should have done better….maybe, maybe I'll do it right next time.
Originally published on Sep 30, 2006
3 years ago