Try Not to Let Go

I was sitting cross-legged on my friend’s bed. Cozy. With popcorn and gossip and a mountain view. We hadn’t done this since college. I’d missed it.

“How did she die?” I asked. “I never knew for sure.”

My friend paused for a long time. Then she said, “Everybody had the flu that winter. I mean, even I got it…”

Suddenly my ears started ringing. It was hard for me to hear. And my vision did that telescope-y thing. She appeared to slide away from me. The bed seemed like a football field, its quilt stretching on to infinity.

Why was I getting shock-y all of a sudden? This death was not news to me. Our former college crew leader was only in her 40’s at the time. I had been sad about it for years. But I guess I hadn’t allowed myself to dwell upon the depth of the tragedy. I don’t think I realized how senseless and preventable it had been.

“You weren’t there that last year. She was so depressed. Her divorce was vicious, and her daughter had moved in with her ex-husband. I would find her crying. In her office. In the bathroom. In her car. I think she just gave up. And that flu was kind of all she needed.”

I stared at the quilt pattern until all the colors blurred together. “This isn’t the 1800’s. Forty-year-olds shouldn’t die of the flu. Not in this day and age. I guess you really can die of a broken heart.”

“Yeah,” she said.

I reached out. For the popcorn.


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