Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Thanks friends, for all the kind words in response to yesterday's post. The news about my ex-coworker's illness was a shock to me.
While riding the subway home last night, I was in a pensive mood. I kept imagining what it must have been like - learning the news, while plans for her wedding ceremony were already underway. Liz is a very sweet and bubbly person, kind and at times hilariously funny. It's strange to know that when I saw her last summer at her wedding, she knew she was ill.
Liz and her husband Jerry were engaged forever. No exaggeration. They'd dated more than 10 years. When I met her, she was already at the 5-year mark. People would make playful jokes about when she'd get married, assuming it was her top priority.
After the 5-year mark, the jokes stopped. I think people were afraid it was a sore spot, and they'd be tapping into some inner angst. Liz assured me they were never in a rush to get married. They knew they would, they were just too lazy to get around to it.
Meanwhile, Liz and Jerry lived together. Jerry was a high-pressure hedge fund trader, and before I'd met them, he'd undergone a quadruple bypass in his late 20's. I never got the full story. Even though I loved talking to Liz, and she's very approachable, I never felt right asking.
A year after we'd met her, Liz left the office where we worked together. We kept in touch, and every few months there'd be a group get-together over Korean barbeque. Liz is one of those tiny Korean women who can eat truckloads of food. She has beautiful white skin and a ready laugh. She can be a bitch on wheels when she needs to be. Her nickname was 'The Terminator' because she'd be the one to fire the interns who weren't working out.
I learned about Liz's condition through our mutual friend, James, who was my date to Liz's wedding last year. He and I plan to see Liz soon. As far as James knows, she's okay for now. She's undergone surgery and is not undergoing radiation.
My point is not to be depressing. Writing about Liz is my way of processing the news. Most of all, I find it wonderful that they went through with the wedding. I mentioned this to James on the phone yesterday.
'She'd had a couple seizures,' he'd said. 'You know, before the ceremony.'
'Would you have done it? I mean, would you have gone through with the ceremony?' I asked. I felt like I was twelve years old, in bed hugging a teddy bear. I was asking why the sky was blue.
'No, of course you would have done it. Of course, how silly of me. Duh.'
So now all I can think is that when we'd seen Liz that day, her unstoppable smile was exceedingly meaningful. And Jerry's little speech was exceedingly meaningful.
I don't remember what he'd said, but I'm sure it was all true, probably about how caring and amazing Liz was, and how lucky he was.
All I remember is how they'd held each other's hands. They looked like two children, excited and on the verge of giggles. It was Christmas morning and they were about to jump into a heap of colorful gifts, and tear the wrapping paper off.
Photo by myself, of Grace Church on lower Broadway.