Sunday, June 7, 2009

Empty Are The Fairgrounds

One week. Seven days. One hundred and sixty-eight hours. In the context of the lifespan of the average human being in these United States it is but an eye blink. Yet in certain circumstances, in the life of a particular human being, it is an eternity. And what life was at week's beginning it is no longer at week's end. And tragically it shall never be again.

From this point forward, Margaret's life shall be divided into two separate and distinct categories. Suzy B. was not only her mom but was in fact her best friend. The two of them spoke on the phone a dozen times a day - often times about things that the rest of the world (including their own husbands) might have thought were trivial or inconsequential but were simply the sort of things that one makes certain to share with one's best friend.

And Margaret saw her mom every day. I must confess that when my wife and I first married, the notion of having all of my in-laws (Mother/Father & Brother/Sister) living here 'neath the snow globe with us struck me as a potential source of suffocation. I quickly realized, however, that I had married into a family that one would otherwise have thought existed only in the mind of Bill Cosby or Robert Young or their television writers. A family in which the core group of four was as thick as thieves as kids and remained as tight - if not tighter - when the children grew to adulthood and became parents themselves.

Several times during this seemingly endless week that was, Joe told me with well-deserved pride how good he felt about the strong and ever-expanding family that had grown up from the seeds sown by his bride and him. And I told him that the thought occurred to me as we were standing in the funeral home on Thursday during one of the "visitation" sessions how much of what my life is today I owe to the fact that when I came calling on their daughter all those years ago, both of them gave me their seal of approval. But for that, my pursuit of happiness would have advanced no further than the front door.

I stood eyeing the endless stream of people who had come to say goodbye to Suzy B and to share a handshake, a hug and a tear with the trio she left here to continue on without her - Joe, Frank and Margaret- and wondered what shell of a life I would be leading, now, had Joe and Sue not approved of me then. They did and ever since, generally speaking, life had been just heaven in the sun.

I grieve for Suzy B and also for my bride and her brother and father. For life will be forever changed for the three who are here still to carry on the work of the four. And while they will most certainly figure out how to adapt and how to move forward to deal with life's still-to-come challenges, nothing from now on to time immemorial shall ever be what it once was.

On television, Cosby's family and Young's family dealt with only the spectre of cancellation. In the real world, something much more heart wrenching and sinister lurks. And unlike television, regardless of your success, you cannot forestall it forever.

One week. Seven days. One hundred and sixty-eight hours. Time enough to change everything forever.


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