One Breath at a time

A couple hours ago, a familiar name popped up on my cell phone.  I debated about answering the phone because I had so many things I needed to do, and I knew I would get lost in conversation and end up not finishing what I was working on.  Oh what the hell, I would just pick up real quick and tell him that we had to catch up later because I was busy.

I answered the phone expecting my friend to say “Hello Doll”, (which is what he usually says to me in his super sexy southern drawl.) but instead I heard a sniffle, a cough, and a sharp intake of breath.  I questioned, “Ghost? (his nickname) Ghost are you ok?  What’s going on?”  Another sniffle, followed by, “No maam, this is his son, Levy.”…. OH FUCK!  My mind thought NO! NO! NO! NO!!  That’s about all I remember exactly.  Levy was calling to tell me that his daddy had a stroke a week ago.

It’s amazing that when you get news like that literally hundreds of thoughts, questions, memories hit you at once.  I had images of the first time we had met face to face running through my head.  (We met through an online game that we had played together for 4 years hence the nickname Ghost.  Mine was Milano, but my friend’s called me “Millie”.)  I remembered the first time I heard his voice in real life, the hours of game play which turned into an incredible friendship, and so on and so on.

Then there was a voice through the fog…. “Milano, Millie, Maam…are you  still there?”

“Oh shit, um yes yes I’m still here.”

More sniffles followed by, “Okay, maam, my daddy wanted me to let you know that he had a stroke a week ago, but he is doing ok, well he will be ok, I mean he is alive”…….

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Levy went on to try to explain that Ghost couldn’t talk… no not that he couldn’t talk, but that he couldn’t find the right words, or they just wouldn’t come out right.  The poor kid was having trouble explaining what was happening because he didn’t understand what was happening himself.  Hell I didn’t understand what was happening.  I could hear Ghost in the background trying to say my name.  Trying to help Levy explain, but he was getting angry that Millie kept coming out Molly, and he couldn’t make a sentence.

Somehow I was on the phone with Ghost, well kind of he was trying to talk, I was trying to understand, but then there were tears, so many tears…and they wouldn’t stop.  I tried to tell Ghost that I was here for him.  I would make the drive to Florida if his family needed me to.  I told him I loved him and and and…. Then I was on the phone with his son again.  I tried to tell him the same things I told Ghost.  If they needed help, I could and would be there.  There were just so many tears.  In hindsight, poor kid probably thought “Oh no, I can’t handle you too”.

When I hung up the phone, I tried to make the calls to our other mutual friends letting them know why they hadn’t heard from Ghost, and to let them know he would be okay.  The problem is, I didn’t know, …….I don’t know that he will be ok  and again so many tears.

When I reached the “Elder” of our little group, he tried to put me at ease by explaining that this was common when someone had a stroke.  It didn’t mean that he would permanently suffer, he reminded me that Ghost “IS A STUBBORN OLD COOT”….although he is only 55, he is pretty damn stubborn.  I listened and cried for the next hour.

I am absolutely exhausted emotionally and physically.  I am not going to jump in my car and make the 15 hour drive to Florida… yet.  I am not going to drink the whole case of beer sitting in my refrigerator. (although I had envisioned doing just that)  I am going to stop beating myself up that I didn’t call him last week when I saw the rocks that made me think of him.  I decided instead to come here, and to write this.

We have all heard the sayings or cliches that you should always tell the people you care about that you care about them.  You never know if there will be a tomorrow to tell someone.  Slow down and enjoy life etc etc etc.  Instead of just telling you those things, I am trying to tell you WHY I am telling you those things.  Please take a minute and give your parents a call, give your kids an extra hug?  Don’t be in such a hurry, and take today ONE BREATH AT A TIME.

The story with the Rocks is that over the years I have collected numerous things from people that have “touched me” or left a big impression.  I’m not materialistic, it’s more something to hold onto when you are missing them, or a reminder that they are there.  When I was at Ghost’s house, I asked if I could take these rocks from his patio that he designed.  They were extras, but they reminded me of his characteristics….strong, hardworking creative etc.  They are sitting on my deck as I haven’t figure out if I should add them to my rock garden, or my china cabinet with other things I have collected.  I saw them last week and thought I should send him a picture to let him know I still had those silly rocks….but I got too busy.  😦