In the blink of an eye

Sunday night. It's been another scorcher of a day today. I got up this morning, still grumbling to myself about the heat and worrying what running the air conditioners is going to do to my electric bill. I wrote my earlier post, hoppped in the shower, and headed up to see TCB. Our tentative plan was to go to brunch and then see a movie. It didn't much matter which movie, just as long as it was air conditioned. I chatted with my BFF, Tracy, on the drive up, mostly about baseball (she's a Giants fan, I'm for the Padres), and it was nice to feel the easy way that we just "get" each other. We finished up just as I pulled up to TCB's and I clicked my phone closed. As I walked through the door, TCB said, "I've got to go to work." And that was the end of my lazy Sunday.

"I can't talk about it," he said. "I don't know how long I'll be at work," he said. I didn't panic, but I worried that he was in some sort of disciplinary trouble. "I won't be going back to Memphis this week," he said, as he shaved. (He had to be in full working uniform and that includes a fresh shave.) I knew it had to be something serious because there was an important seminar out there that he was supposed to be attending this coming week. Besides, he'd left one of his suitcases out there with a colleague who'd stayed last week, too, to attend a training that TCB didn't need - how was he going to get that back?

I dropped him off at his office and asked what I should tell the guard when I came to get him? (I don't have stickers for my car because I'm not a dependent, so they will always stop me when I try to get on base in my car without TCB.) He said to tell them he had to complete a PCR* and that they'd let me through. I thought it was some kind of wicked bad personnel review and that someone had made some stupid mistake and was blaming it on him. If only.

Six hours later, he called and said, "I can tell you now because it's official." His colleague, the one with whom he'd left his suitcase, was killed in a car crash last night in Memphis. Where TCB was last week. Where he's supposed to be this week. The colleague I'd heard so much about but only met while we were in Memphis together. TCB could have been in that car. It could have been him. As it is, his friend and colleague is gone and leaves behind a wife and three children under three years of age. TCB drove the Senior Chief and Chaplain to her house to break the bad news but he'd had to lie to her earlier when she'd called as he was completing the paperwork to ask if he'd heard from her husband because she couldn't get him to answer his cell phone. I know that bothered him a lot because he's not a man that lies and because he knew what was about to happen to her.

I couldn't help myself when he told me: I broke down completely. I had a premonition something awful was going to happen in Memphis on the day that I left. I remember sobbing quietly in the airport shuttle as we passed by the Convention Center where their conference was in progress. I thought it was about TCB and, in some sense, it was because he is mostly certainly raw with emotion right now, but I just knew something wasn't right. And you know, it really puts things in perspective.

His colleague was a man who was content and planning for retirement from the military in a few years. He had a ready laugh and a calming effect on TCB and I liked him for both of those qualities. He was alive and now he's dead and it could have been TCB. It could have been anyone, even me. Life is fragile and it's finite and we take it for granted because that's the nature of things. If we spent our lives waiting for Death to find us, we'd be wasting the incredible gift of Life, but if we don't realize that it's going to catch up with us eventually, we run the risk of not spending our time on the right priorities, of not recognizing the beauty in even the most mundane of moments.

* It was only later that TCB told me what the initials stood for: Personnel Casualty Report. And I'd thought it was something about a disciplinary hearing.


JessiferSeabs said…
So much love to you and to TCB... I know EXACTLY how you feel right now; knowing something wasn't right, and then the adrenaline rush / crash that happens when your fears are confirmed... and then, the devastating sense of relief that it wasn't your love, and the remembrance that life is precious.

I am so sorry for your loss, but so glad that you and TCB are safe.
Shannin said…
I am so sorry to hear about his friend. I can only imagine what he must have felt calling on the wife. Sending you a big hug...

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