Thursday, April 24, 2008

How hard can it be to make a phone call?

While I don't expect my old boss to be all "bright-eyed and bushy-tailed" after last Friday's prostate surgery, I wonder how exhausting it would be for him to just pick up the phone and let me know he's OK. I've been trying to respect his privacy, but every day it gets harder. Since it's been a week, I don't think it will be so bad if I give in and call him.

There's another call on my mind, too. It's one that I really ought to initiate, but I've been putting it off and putting it off. So I guess I shouldn't be too hard on my old boss.

A former coworker tracked me down and asked me if I was interested in perhaps doing some freelance writing for him. As we exchanged chatty emails, he brought me up to date on his life. His second wife of 4 years or so has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and is not doing well.

I really should call him, or at least send a more thoughtful email that addresses her illness. But I've been putting it off because, strangely enough, I feel a certain amount of pressure to be sensitive and wise. Here's the thing -- when this man and I first met, his cat was very ill and died. He told me WHY the cat was so important to him …

Years earlier, when he was going through a divorce precipitated by his alcoholism, he discovered a stray cat hiding in the warehouse area of the company he worked for. He brought it back to his tiny new apartment. It was just the two of them. Knowing that the cat had no one else in the world, he decided to really quit drinking so he could be a really responsible pet owner. He believed that finding that cat, and realizing the cat depended on him, literally helped save his life. Therefore seeing his feline buddy lose its life was especially hard for him.

Apparently I was sensitive to his loss and said all the right things when that cat died. My former coworker mentioned it in his emails to me. Now that the man's WIFE is dying, I feel a great deal of pressure to say all the right things again.

So I guess that's the answer to the question I posed way back at the beginning of this post -- "How hard can it be to make a phone call?" Pretty damn hard sometimes. Pretty damn hard.