Sunday, January 14, 2018

The small and big day

Today was one of those days that felt drowned on one edge, burned to char on the other.

It started with returning a rental car and going to get my real car back from the garage, with a little attendant drama because why should these things ever just go easily? A friend came over to help me with a project and our “bad car-ma” continued when we heard her car alarm going on and ran outside to see a neighbor had run into her parked car. I felt so guilty having asked her to come see me and therefore sideways responsible for the accident, which added onto her already-heavy burdens.

I then spent hours battling a new software platform rolled out by my school, which thanks to an administrative snafu, I had not been granted access to until a few days ago although I accepted the class back in November. It’s an online class, so students were panicking and emailing fretful messages.

The terrier we are dogsitting had waken me at 3 a.m. and then again at 7 a.m. with gruff little barks. Reacting to deer or turkeys in the yard? We won’t know in this lifetime unless there is a real-life Dr. Doolittle.

I’ve had a kid sick home all week and struggled with balancing deadlines and sitting on the sofa with her.

Somehow with all this going on, I managed to remain unaware of the ballistic missile alert in Hawaii that probably changed some people’s lives even though it was issued in error. My stomach feels sick thinking of those who thought they might be ending their lives within moments.

And so when I finally settled down into social media after my friend had left and the kids were in bed, I couldn’t believe it when I saw that Traci Foust had died.

How is that possible? Young, funny, beautiful, sweet, edgy Traci is not with us anymore. And I realized because of the perceived “dramas” of the last few days in my life, I had scrolled past her posts about being sick without even clicking on a damn emoticon, let alone taking the ten seconds it would’ve taken to write a nice comment offering some small comfort.

Traci’s last post on her page was two days ago, when she told her friends, “Im being admitted into the ICU with double bacterial pneumonia.” She had Lupus and being weakened by the pneumonia, coming down with the flu on top of it was too much for her body. I scrolled down her feed and saw that not long ago, she was vowing to definitely get the flu shot next year (she procrastinated this year). Given its limited effectiveness, I don’t know if the flu shot would’ve saved her, but it sucks to think it might have.

I really liked Traci and she made me laugh out loud many times on her feed. I never met her in real life. Traci friended me years ago with a compliment about my novel which she had just read, and we shared writerly PMs. She is the author of a memoir Nowhere Near Normal, which I feel like an asshole for never having read and talked to her about when she was so generous with me about my writing.

Because I knew her memoir was about mental health, when I saw the first posts from others about her death, I thought for a moment she had committed suicide. With some digging, I learned it was plain old stupid flu and pneumonia. So unfair, and so wrong. Traci, I wish I had read your book while you were still alive, and I wish you were here to write many more.

So the small and big day, wet and burned day, draws to a close with regrets and tears.


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