My friend Nan died June 6, 2005. She was 52. It always feels poignant she died on D-Day, since it was certainly that for me and those who loved her.
I saw her husband just the other day walking hand in hand with an attractive woman. Why this startled me, I can’t say. Nan died nine years ago, there’s certainly nothing wrong with him finding another. But I’ve often wondered, why her and not him.
I know that isn’t nice, but she was such a supreme human being, while he paled in her presence. I always felt he traipsed behind basking in her light.
Nan was very sick, so one Saturday while her husband was at a wedding she was too ill to attend, she took her own life. When I got the call I was stunned, though shouldn’t have been since she dropped hint after hint. I cursed Harry for years leaving her alone that long, something that did not serve me since we live in the same neighborhood seeing one another often.
I went so far as to cross the street to avoid having to look at him.
Resentment is a heavy responsibility weighing one down since you’re the one carrying it, not the target of your contempt. When I finally stopped hating Harry some five years down the line, it felt like a tarp had been lifted off me.
It’s not new, the good dying young. I learned that lesson in high school when a boy I knew was gunned down during a random drive-by shooting. A cop’s teenage son stole his father’s gun and went on a shooting spree ending the life of 17 year-old Ricky Santora the day before he was to go into the army.
Hailing from the poorest of families, the priest at his church convinced him the military would give him a future, starting with an education.
He was my first funeral and when they passed the hat for a tombstone, I put in my allowance and birthday money. I’ll always remember what the modest stone said along with his dates…
A Tribute From All My Friends.
That was 44 years ago.
Sister Maria Del Rey who taught religious school, when I asked why God let Ricky die, said, “The noble and true have a special place at God’s table, and sometimes he calls them home early because he needs them near.” I paraphrased, but not very much. She was the same nun who, when I got my period in the middle of Galatians and blood was all over my chair, hugged me right out of my embarrassment and said, it was a blessing to be so young and healthy.
Too many people I’ve known and admired have been called to God’s table early…to remember a few.
Shelia Adams, Joyce Aronson, Francis Borelli, Frank Carneski (my dad), Dennis Cantiello, Tom Davis, Robin Foxx, Greg Giraldo, Cindy Hair, Thomas Harding, Brynn Hartman, Carol Henry, Bill Hicks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jeni, Beverly Johnson, Justin Kim, Nancy Klein, Ricky Murphy, Beth Nelson, Robert Obersion, Richie Pagnosi, Ricky Santora, John Spencer, Cindy Toten, Jackie Vogelstein, Wendy Wasserstein.