Friday, April 1, 2011
I was sitting in his favourite comfy chair by the window, reading the morning papers. I had been up most of the night with a stomach bug, so was taking it easy that morning just a couple of days ago.
Grief still comes in waves. I can be fine for a while and then some trigger or sometimes even nothing I can put my finger on, brings out a fresh round of tears.
The telephone rang. Do I get up to answer or just let it ring?
"May I speak to Dr. Nelligan, please?"
"Um... may I ask who is calling?"
"Are you his wife?"
"This is Lily from Blaa Blaa Pharmaceuticals. Dr. I-forget-his-name would like to know if Dr. Nelligan plans to attend the upcoming symposium on such-and-such a new drug"
"Oh" (pause, while I choose my words)
"Oh, Mrs. Nelligan, is he already planning to attend? In that case, sorry to have disturbed you." (don't I wish!)
"No, Dr. Nelligan died last summer."
"Oh. I'm sorry."
"I thought the medical community would have been aware of this. His obituary was published in the medical journals."
"Our mistake. I don't think you will be hearing from us again."
I certainly hope not, I thought, but did not say. I guess this young lady was just doing her job, but she didn't sound the least bit sorry, nor did it occur to her that saying "I don't think you will be hearing from us again." sounded more like "well, you know, we might call you back next year if we forget that your husband died."
Some days this incident would have lingered for a few moments then let go. That day it hurt. Probably because I was not feeling well.
Looking out the window to distract myself, I noticed the familiar V-formation of Canada geese flying home, signaling the return of spring and warmer weather.
"Welcome home" I called out to them with a smile. And then continuing my conversation with the air or the cat or the window, "Ahh, David, I see you sent geese to cheer me up. We always loved to watch the geese returning home after a long and cold winter."
I suppose this type of phone call will continue until I move and change my phone number. And I'm sure others have stories similar to mine or worse. But it always seems to come at a time when you're unprepared.