Monday, July 16, 2012

A Satellite View of a Father's Grief

I'll admit that a whole month has gone by since I learned that a childhood friend died and I'm just now sending a donation to her favorite charity.  To my credit, I sent the sympathy card long ago. 

Do you know that girl who was your best friend's older sister when you were seven?  Do you remember how insurmountable that two year difference was back then?  It was huge.  You had totally different friends in school.  You even had different interests.  Oh, Christine played jump rope with us, but her age gave her the authority to tell us what to do and Billy and I both chaffed at complying with her orders, but we had to, because mothers had put her in charge.  Christine was usually followed by her dog, Mike.  Mike didn't really add to her authority since he was a pug, but Christine had enough for both of them.

So, in truth, I was less of a friend to Christine when I was little.  I wonder if she felt that imbalance of loyalty?  There were no girls in the neighborhood just exactly her age, no boys either.

In the end, my friendship with her sister Billy faded.  The short version of a long story is that Billy's mother wanted her to expand her horizons when it came to friends, so she systematically froze me out.  It was very painful to me, but worse was that Billy always believed after that that she was superior.  It left a sour taste in my mouth and unfortunately, because I wasn't even as close to Christine, it impressed my view of them both.  Birds of a feather, you know.  I assumed that the older sister felt as though she was better than me too.

See, there is bitterness there still.  It hurts to be rejected and I was royally rejected, it seemed, by the whole family.

Funny thing is that I had seen these two women when I visited long after I moved away.  My old best friend Billy set her teeth into more of a grimace than a smile and hugged me stiffly.  What stunned me though was that her older sister grabbed me in a bear hug with a huge grin on her face.  She really wanted to know how I had been.  The ice melted a lot that day and I realized that Christine was much warmer than her younger sister.  I realized that Christine and I would likely be friends if we still lived near each other.  That was a funny feeling after living that age difference so profoundly as a child.  Hell, two years is nothing now. 

Now I'm stuck grieving for what could have been.  And so, though I'm no longer connected to anyone in the family, I made a donation in Christine's memory.  It was to the Humane Society, of all places.  It doesn't get any better than that when it comes to charities.

You know, I started to fill out a donation online.  It was going to be easy, until it asked for an email address to notify the family.  Well, okay, I found Christine's father's address.  I figured I could find his email too. 

It was really creepy that when I entered Christine's father's name and city into an email search site, I was offered a Google satellite view of his house.  Oh my God!  That's what stalkers do.  I just wanted an email to acknowledge my donation.  There was information about the value of his house, his age, his suspected career.  Whew!  Yet they wanted money to snoop further and email fell into that category.  I jumped off that site as fast as you could say 'viral stalker creep.' 

There's no way I'm paying money to stalk this poor man when he's just lost his daughter.  I was just hoping that he'd see that I donated a gift in memory of Christine and feel some warmth over it.  Hells bells, having my name pop up on his radar just isn't worth all that snooping.  I'm sorry.  It just isn't. 

So maybe there is some sort of silent karma that will bloom over my head since I made the donation anyway, even though no one will ever know.  Maybe Christine's father is feeling some comfort as we speak.  You know, the way the chaos theory works, that the flap of the wings of a butterfly in South Africa can instigate a hurricane on the Gulf Coast. 

Do you feel that, the warmth flowing around?  Well, maybe it won't work right since I'm telling you.  Maybe that negates the karma.  Maybe the whole thing about snooping around, looking at a satellite view of his house just gave him a chill and what I've actually done is create bad karma instead.

I hope not.

What I want you to remember about Christine is that she hugged me so hard that day that tears nearly sprung to my eyes.  She looked genuinely happy, in her life, in her family, and in seeing me, an old friend.  She had her dogs with her.  They were happy dogs.  It suited her to have donations made to the Humane Society instead of having flowers sent. 

So if we really earn a place in heaven or hell, if my opinion counts toward that end, I'll tip her right into a heavenly spot next to her sweet old dog Mike.  It was that hug and that smile that did it. 

Thank you for listening, jb


  1. Hello Julie, I think its the intention that remembered Christine and did something that would means something to her.To me, that's a wonderful deed.I agree that a little acknowledgment helps, when we do something for others.I gave you a gift but I really wanted to know how you felt about it- that is a weakness that I still have; most people do.Difficult to get rid of it!Though in our culture they say " Do all good that you can and don't expect anything in return" but truly, its hard to follow!!!When people don't acknowledge or react positively, we feel sad.That's being 'human', I would say.

    A hug, a smile,a few loving words can do wonders.You remembered Christine's bear hug even after she is gone now.I think thats the way it should be.

    1. Thanks Arti. I am definitely human, sometimes annoyingly so. I guess we all are. Thank you for letting me tell you about Christine, jb