I remember how, as soon as the phone rang, as soon as I heard my brother’s voice, I knew my father had had a heart attack. Don’t ask me how I knew (because the call was in the middle of the day), but I knew. I woke my then 2 year old daughter from her nap, threw her in the car and started the race to my parents’ house.
And I knew when I got the call in the car before I picked it up that my father had died. I wasn’t going to get a chance to say goodbye. Or to tell him I loved him one last time.
There was a time when The Call and I were on all-too-familiar terms. Too many calls in way too short a span. Life’s like that, how it bunches up in places… Thankfully, the phone has been quiet for a few years now.
So when I had to call my daughter at school today, I could immediately hear the worry in her voice. “Mom, is everything okay?” I knew that in that short instant she had calculated all the possibilities.
She’s had to deal with more death at her young age than most people in their thirties, and any unexpected call immediately plugs into that place where her throat closes because all the air’s been sucked out of her lungs. And her reaction immediately plugged me into that place.
“Everything’s fine,” I quickly reassured her and went on to relay the reason for my call. (Nothing exciting, just a change in dentist appointments and I needed to pick her up sooner than originally planned.)
As I heard her finally exhale a deep breath, I knew she was reeling herself back from the black precipice.
“So, you feel like you dodged a bullet?” I teased.
She giggled a nervous giggle.
No, Death is never on holiday, but my daughter and I had a moment to remember and be thankful that he’s not ringing our phone today.