In a little under two weeks I am flying home for a month, and I am on page 40 of my thesis. I wanted to be on page 50 by this Friday, and then give myself the last week or so to write the introduction and the conclusion. Things are going well, on the thesis. I am stressed, but it’s a stress that is temporary and will eventually pass.
Yesterday I was sitting at my computer, checking emails, while talking to a friend on the phone (the ValleyGirl version of multi-tasking). I was surprised to have received an email from the husband of C., my exchange partner from France. Well, we were never really exchange partners, but I have a really close relationship with her family. C. and I first met when we were 14, when we were in the same class at school in France. I was staying with another family. Two years later, C. came to stay with us for three months in Los Angeles, and went to my school.
And when I went to France the year after, her mother A., kind of adopted me, even though I was living on my own. My apartment was just across the street from them, so I would inevitably go over there almost once a day…and she insisted on washing my clothes for me (I swear, she insisted). A. and I became really close. She is an amazing woman, a doctor who is really active in social issues. If all socialists were like her, socialism would work. She is very active in the local chapter of Amnesty International, she goes once a week to the train station to give medical care to homeless people, she took a second job at the major’s office. Her husband is the ying to her yang. He is the conservative. He had never left France before he met her, and she is the world traveler. He is the capitalist, she is the socialist. She taught him how to sail, an she learned a lot of culture, and an appreciation for literature from him.
I always thought they made the most amusing couple. One of my favorite scenes between them happened a few years ago when I was there visiting. A.’s husband, also a doctor, was on-call for the night. The cell-phone rang, and he was telling a story at the dinner table, so A. went to answer it, as she is in the same practice, and would be equally qualified to take the call, and arrange for her husband to make a house-call later. She came back to the table, and after her husband was finished telling the story, he asked her what the call was about. And A. said, “Oh, it was just someone with a rash on their hand. I told them they could wait until tomorrow and go to their doctor in the morning. Can’t believe they would call an on-call doctor for that. What an abuse of the public health system!” And her husband cried: “A., you have no concept of making money. Give me the phone, I am going to call them back. Of course I am going to make this house-call.” And he did.
C. and I, although the same age, were never really close. But A. became my second mother. We email a lot more often than C. and I, and to be honest, we see each other more often. She even came to visit me here in Germany for the weekend last year.
C. got married last summer, and I my boyfriend and I made the drive down there to take part in the wedding. It was a great weekend, and it was nice to watch C. being led down the aisle by her father. Her husband is a nice enough guy, but I never really hit it off with him. So, it really surprised me to receive an email from him yesterday. Especially with the Subject Line: Bad News.
I opened the email with some trepidation, and he told me that C.’s father, A.’s husband, had died over the weekend. Her father was young, just in his mid-50s. It is a shock to the whole family.
I can’t imagine the pain the family is going through. The pain of losing a father, nor the pain of losing a partner. I was never really that close to her father. But I am close to A., so it grieves me to think that she is now a widow. The sorrow I feel is less for what his loss is to me, but the suffering of C., her brothers and her mother.
The funeral is tomorrow. I immediately arranged to travel there. Suddenly the stress with my thesis and the deployment seems so insignificant. I don’t want to relativise anything, I am just saying that we sometimes forget what we can be thankful for, and sometimes take those for granted.
I immediately called my own parents, to inform them, and also just to hear my mother’s voice.
I chatted later with my boyfriend online, and what he said was of great comfort to me. I get along really well with him, and we have a very relaxed relationship, and are constantly teasing each other. And because we have so much fun, I sometimes forget the attributes that he has that I don’t always see, and sometimes almost forget they are there. But then they come to the surface, and I am always so impressed. And I am just so proud that I somehow convinced him that I was worthy of his friendship.
Since I have to write about 10 pages today on my thesis, I don’t really have the time to write this post, but I needed to. Sometimes it helps to write things down and to share your thoughts with others.