I heard this morning that the mother of a friend passed away. He posted something on Facebook about it and people have been responding with words of support all day. Which is how it should be. I always hate hearing about anyone losing someone close, but it’s really tough to hear of someone losing his mother.
My mom died in 2005. She died at a hospice in San Antonio the week after Hurricane Rita hit the Gulf Coast. She’d been evacuated from Victoria, TX because no one really could predict where the storm was going to go. The area was still reeling from Katrina earlier in the summer. When word came down that the hospital she was in was going to be evacuated a few days before the storm hit, Carla and I flew back to Cincinnati. To say leaving that hospital room was the hardest thing I’ve ever did is an understatement. I fully understood that it was the last time I’d ever see her alive.
Two random weird things: First, the actor Hal Holbrook was at the same gate at Houston Intercontinental we were leaving from. He’d apparently been doing Mark Twain Tonight in Galveston when the evacuation order came down. I kept staring at him and thinking “Is that Hal Holbrook? Why am I seeing Hal Holbrook on what’s arguably the worst day of my life?” He was on a different flight, but there he was. I couldn’t ask him for an autograph or anything like that. I’d never have been able to hold it together. Hell, there’s no way to tell this story without it being completely depressing.
The other thing is sadder. I was at work the day mom passed away and I decided to stay there because the idea of going home and staring at the walls did nothing for me. I called my friend Jeff who’d been the best man at my wedding. He’s a school teacher, so I wasn’t surprised that I needed to leave him a message on his cell. A few hours later he calls me. We start talking and it becomes pretty clear pretty fast that there was a disconnect. “Hold on,” he said, “Are you saying your mom died this morning?” He was calling me to let me know his father — a man I considered a surrogate father — had also died that morning. Jeff hadn’t heard my message. He called me to let me know about his dad. Needless to say both of our days went from bad to worse.
When I heard about my friend’s mother this morning all this came flooding back. Not like it was yesterday or anything, but it all flooded back. There’s really nothing you can say. Having been through it, you realize just how much of nothing you can say. But you want to.
There’s not really a point to all this. It was just on my mind all day. But if you can still call your mom, I’d strongly recommend doing it very soon. It really kind of sucks when you can’t anymore.