“We Meet Again” (Part 2)

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Compelling how that headline’s quotation marks can express such contrasting sentiments. When specifically connected with this post’s Part 1, it involves words I don’t really mean; i.e., signifies my shunning days of yore, superficial, dreary students. Yet, when associated with Part 2, it refers to an actual quotation; words which showcase a long ago, meaningful, far too fleeting friendship with a delightful classmate (more about her in a moment).

BTW, if you happened to miss Part 1, my following catch-up synopsis should prove adequate.

Of late, I’ve been flouting bygone, classmate acquaintances’ persistent messages (logged on my landline answering machine / lodged within my snail mailbox); thwarting their attempts to invite me to OUR… correction… THEIR 50th Class Reunion. Here’s why…

  • From the 4th grade, onward, bullies had rendered me a social pariah
  • As such, I have absolutely boycotted all of THEIR previous reunions
  • Past reunion organizers could not track down THEIR other outcasts
  • If “lepers”, such as I, aren’t gonna to show up, why bother attending?

Even so… truth be told… I certainly would love a second chance at transforming that above mentioned fleeting friendship into something more forever. Alas… long sigh… No Way On Earth could that ever, possibly happen.

You see, a delightful young Miss had officially joined the Class of ’72 at September’s outset of the 2nd Grade. Assigned to the desk directly in front of mine, on that Day-1, she spun around to introduce herself. Tho she had certainly needed no assist from beauty, Debbie’s charming presence did get further enhanced by her shoulder length wavy blonde hair, sparkling blue eyes and beguiling smile.

And that was just for starters. From each school day, onward, she’d turn to face me, remind me, “We meet again.” Wow, what an original expression from someone so young!

Regrettably, that was not for long. Debbie was destined to complete her formal education ten years too early; “graduate” in a most unexpected, unconventional manner when her oncologist meted out his death sentence diagnosis.

Sadly, in that bygone era, schools didn’t, yet, have grief counselors in their employ; delegating such a duty to our teacher, Mrs. M. Her sixty seconds, tops, somber announcement was all we could rely on to console us.

The problem with such a scenario… developmentally speaking, seven and eight-year-olds have yet to fully grasp the finality of death. Personally, up to that very moment, my only previous experience was as an even less aware six-year-old; my ambivalence to my maternal grandmother’s passing on, due, mainly, to the multiple hundreds of miles between Minnesota and Michigan; the expense of travel keeping us apart (my school teacher father was working for peanuts).

Returning now to the life that Debbie might have had… to this day, I cannot help but wonder. Had she remained healthy, been allowed a full lifespan, what might our friendship have become? Considering how well we had gotten along, might the phrase childhood sweethearts have been appropriate?

Returning now to the life that Debbie had been denied… due to the custodian’s next day, get ‘er done efficiency, my classroom’s far left column, where I was situated, was now shortened by one desk; that omission advancing me forward. Somehow, none of this seemed right. In essence, I was now seated at Debbie’s desk; and even worse, would never, again, ear witness her cheerful greeting… unless…

Theologians’ claims of an afterlife do prove true. If so, once my final day on Earth arrives, perhaps I will finally be granted my second chance at transforming a fleeting friendship into something more FOREVER?

I do intend to train my ears… correction… fine tune Eternity’s equivalent telepathy, which will permit me to discern Debbie’s in good spirits, three welcoming words…

“We meet again!”

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

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A Spooky Lead Up To Halloween

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One spring morning, many decades ago, my Mom had handed me an edition of our local newspaper neatly folded to “frame” an obituary. She’d been wondering if the deceased had been a college buddy of mine.

The deceased’s name certainly was common enough so it could’ve been someone else… but… as I began to read, I could sense my eyes widening and jaw dropping. As surreal as this all was, the in-print particulars had left no “i” undotted; no “t” uncrossed.

Indeed, this was the same guy… we had been enrolled in the same broadcasting courses, worked together in the recording studio and eventually earned our degrees. And now… there I was reading the two paragraph final chapter to his all too short life. Short story even shorter… while my 27-year-young photographer friend was on a photo shoot assignment up in Canada, he had suffered a fatal heart attack.

Six torn off calendar pages later… in the days leading up to Halloween no less… there I was browsing, from A to Z, through a mall record store’s vinyl LP bins near closing time… so completely engrossed in reading liner notes I had barely noticed in my peripheral vision that someone was approaching me.

As it turned out, he was far from being just another nameless customer. His cheerful “Hi Tom!” amply proved that.

OMG… that oh so familiar, distinctive voice. It hadn’t been all that long ago when I had routinely heard it in my studio headphones. There was no denying who had just spoken, YET, all my sensibilities told me this could not possibly be happening. Cautiously glancing upward and leftward there, right before my very eyes, stood my reported dead friend… in the flesh?

Under the circumstances, the one and only thing I could possibly blurt out was, “You’re supposed to be dead!”

For a fleeting moment, I had wondered if I might’ve just joined him “on the other side”. I had read of near-death experience survivors who’ve unfailingly reported…

  • Stage One: Floating upward, out of body experiences.
  • Stage Two: Seeing a brilliant, white light at the end of a long, dark tunnel
  • Stage Three: Glorious, out of this world, Heavenly family/friend reunions.

Yet, my brief downward glance confirmed that my feet were still firmly grounded; that no EMTs were frantically trying to resuscitate my sprawled out on the carpet, lifeless body. No tunnel vision, either. Even the ambient lighting had never gone beyond that provided by the overhead, fluorescent fixtures. So, if I had, indeed, just died… just how, pray tell, had I managed to skip over the preliminaries… to arrive at Stage Three?

I could sense the puzzled, still startled look, frozen on my own face. My friend almost seemed to be enjoying how he was spooking me out… could not begin to contain his wide grin and chuckling. But this had been so typical of his sense of humor and, on this occasion, he still had his comedic sense of timing down pat. Well, eventually, he realized it was time to tell me all about how he had “died”.

Indeed… there had been a heart attack… BUT the person who had actually suffered it was the guy who had stolen his wallet. Since New York driver’s licenses of that era had been issued sans photo, the Canadian authorities only had a minimal physical description… so generic it could’ve easily described tens of thousands of men. The discovery that he was still alive had come far too late to “kill” his death notice.

As we parted company that evening, it had been our warm, 98.6-degree, firm handshake, which, ultimately, had proven that no ghostly apparition was he!

As I drove home… alternately glancing between the the nearly deserted road and crescent moon breaking through the clouds on the western horizon… I could not help but mull over all that had happened at the mall. I knew it would take some time for me to more fully shake those still lingering, unsettled feelings.

Well, the good part of this near death experience was neither my friend nor I had to even come close to dying to experience it… and while he hadn’t actually tricked his way out of death, he did get the treat of reading his own obituary.

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Original WordPress
Posting Timestamp:
07/11/2016 @19:56

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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Realities and Possibilities

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As dusk’s drapes descend; close
A raised glass toast to propose
May our numbered tomorrows
Be unencumbered by sorrows
Brimmed with grandeur; a’glowin’
Trimmed with love, peace; freely flowin’

When “numbered” comes down to one
Toast that, too, once day is done
Salute kind mortals who perish
Honor life’s moments they cherish
Ponder their dust now windblown
Up to the heavens unknown

Where might souls reappear?
Swathed by elements’ sphere?
Eternity enshrouded; with our maker near?
Or doth this transcend; taught tenets, mere?
Nonsense the senses; all we smell / taste / touch / see / hear?
Beyond our grasp; we behold the untold frontier?

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Stay Publicly / Properly Masked!
Stay Safe at Home!
Stay Healthy!

-30-

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The Numb Enumerator?

 

Every ten years, the U.S. Census Bureau’s goal is to get an accurate head count. My questions to the Bureau’s head cheese, Director Steven Dillingham…

• Can you fathom the insensitivity, absurdity and futility of your head count ensuing during a raging pandemic?

• Do you realize that you’ll even be risking the well-being of every last one of your in-the-field, doorknocker enumerators?

• True, this decennial tally is legally mandated, but, with eight long months remaining in 2020, could this not wait awhile… i.e., to [1] allow the souls, who can recover, a decent amount of time to literally catch their collective breath and [2] grant those who don’t make it the dignified memorial services they deserve?

• Are you only the matter-of-fact statistician, only capable of the by-the-numbers approach?