My husband has an old friend, the kind that dates back to high school, who calls about once a year to bring Gary up to date and find out what's going on in our lives. They share anecdotes about kids, wives, work, and church. Otherwise, the only time he calls is if something major is happening. Like the time his factory laid him off and sent his work overseas after he'd been in the job for twenty plus years, when he and his wife were having troubles and when they resolved them, when his daughter got married and when his son graduated from college with high honors. These two are close--so close that he named his son after my husband. Yeah. That kind of friend.
Tonight he called for the latter reason. He left a brief message on our machine asking Gary to please call him back. My husband paused and looked at the it and said, "Something's wrong with his son."
"How can you tell?"
"I just can."
He chose not to call him until after we'd returned from a local concert with the Homestead Pickers. It was a good afternoon. My mom organizes this concert, using the church sanctuary as a music hall and people come all over the area. Generally all five of us kids and our spouses and children attend, filling up three pews. Today was no different. We spent much of our time clapping and singing along and handing the babies around. My niece took a nap in my lap (little and pink and giggly--I really want one of these).
When we returned, Gary sat by the phone for a long time before finally picking it up and dialing. He spoke with his friend for a few brief minutes and I noticed him wiping away tears. Their conversations are never long by female standards, but this one was briefer than usual, ending with Gary impressing upon him that he could call at any time and he'd be there for him.
He struggled for a few minutes to compose himself and told me. My husband's namesake, that man's only son, was killed in a truck wreck, while teaching someone else how to drive. He was twenty-four.
Life is too brief as it is, but dying at twenty-four should be against some law of nature.