Monday, June 19, 2017

We Talked on Friday

This is not the blog I was supposed to write. My original plan was to write a two-for-one on fathers in honor of Father’s Day. But life changed the trajectory of my plans.
I sit here as the rain beats against the window pane in perfect sync with the pain piercing my heart. 

We talked on Friday; he sounded fine.

It was like any other weekend. I had a laundry list of things to do —retirement party, day out with my girls, writing class, dance class, selling books and as life would have it—unexpected things happened, too. One of my former students passed away, so I went to the wake on Friday after leaving the retirement party. On the way home, I called my friend Charleston but couldn’t reach him.

Regardless of what my mind says, my body says rest on Friday. I can rip and run the rest of the week, but by body demands I rest on Friday. I was obeying my body when the phone rang. It was Charleston calling me back. We met when I was 15, and it seemed like we had known each other forever. There was always a Commodores easy-like-Sunday morning-ness between us.
We had not spoken in years, but had recently reconnected a few months ago and fell into the groove that had always been us. He thought I was out and about because when we talk, a lot of times I’m in my car. He laughed when I told him I was at home. He was always teasing that he needed some of my energy.

We talked for a long time about everything and nothing. We laughed and reminisced. No matter how much time had passed, we always managed to pick up right where we left off. That’s a rarity to be treasured. We leave people behind, and they us in our evolution. 

We talked Friday; he sounded fine.

His parting words as our conversation ended were, “I’ll call you tomorrow.” Saturday came and went. We didn’t speak, but that was not unusual. We didn’t talk or text every day. Sunday I was trying to get ready for the book selling event. It crossed my mind to send Charleston a “Happy Father’s Day” text as a joke. Like me, he didn’t have any children. I got busy and as easily as it crossed my mind, it slipped my mind. I thought about him a couple of times throughout the day, I’d sometimes think back on something we said, so that wasn’t unusual either. I was trying to sell books, so I stayed focused on the task at hand. I knew it would be late when I left, and he was an early riser so I figured we’d talk or text on Monday like we had been doing. 

We talked Friday; he sounded fine.

I had loaned my sister my car. She picked me up and drove home. I unlocked my phone and had a notification that my Charleston had been tagged in a photo. I clicked on it. It was a photo of him and a message stating that he had died earlier. I shook my head in disbelief. I told my sister my friend died and we had just recently spoken. I said it, but I didn’t believe it. He wasn’t on Facebook that much but I went to his page anyway--my heart thumping. More R.I.P., R.I.H. messages.

We talked Friday; he sounded fine.

I know that tomorrow is not promised to us, but the truth of this is sometimes cruel. My emotions are all over the place and instead of fighting with them; I’m forcing myself to sit with them. I sit with my anger: I want to know why him? Why now? I sit with my guilt: Why didn’t I text when I thought about him? Would it have made a difference? Did I miss something in the times we spoke? I sit with my sadness: The broken promise that he’ll never call me tomorrow. And through my tears I sit with my happiness: we shared a life time of memories, and we reconnected even for a short while. I can cherish that.

We talked Friday; he sounded fine. He died of a heart attack on Sunday. I write this on Monday as I grapple with the grief of losing a dear friend. 

Charleston Lee. Gone, but never forgotten.


  1. Sorry for your loss. A tragedy that will not be easily reconciled. My he rest in peace.

    1. Thank you. Your words are appreciated.

  2. jennifer b banksJune 20, 2017 at 2:20 PM


    This is a sobering reality these days for far too many. The same thing happened with my friend, Robin. Important reminder to give folks their flowers while they are living. So sorry about your friend.

  3. It was shocking to say the least. I've replayed that conversation looking for a clue. Nothing. It is one of those things that I will eventually come to terms with, but it will take some time. Thank you.