I got a call from a dear friend the other day. She wanted to tag off on me to be sure she told me how much she cares about me. It was one of those calls I didn't mind taking. This is to say that there are plenty of calls that I do mind taking. This was no telemarketer. This was someone who had every right to call me and it made me just a little shameful for even asking, "Who is it?"
It is the time of our lives we find ourselves in, when even the good friends are calling to share news that isn't so good. Pending babies and wedding announcements are giving way to dire proclamations of disease, divorce and the biggest D: death. I liked the ones about babies. I felt proud about the ones that brought me into that bigger circle of friends generated by weddings. I'm not a big fan of that circle diminishing.
That's why this call was so unusual. It was generated by a call she had received from a friend of hers that came with an announcement of the Big C: Cancer. Her friend's husband was dying, and it set off a chain of emotions that brought her to the other end of my telephone line. She was calling, not to check up on me, but to make sure that she let me know how much she loved me.
I know. Suddenly we're in that AT&T/Stevie Wonder territory of commercial-grade sentimentality. That's not what this was. This was the pure stuff, from which that treacle was so callously distilled. So pure, in fact, that it caused my own sincerity defenses to spring into action. My impulse to reply with smart aleck was almost as intense as the wave of sweetness I was getting. Happily, the sincerity won out, and I was able to rein in those wiseacre impulses long enough to respond in kind, if not a little slowly. It was, in the words of my son, totally worth it.
It got me to thinking about "The Big Chill." All those old friends gathering together as the news changes from pleasant to less than. I used to sneer a little at this contrived situation, driven by Motown hits and trumped up connections between these old college buddies. Now it doesn't seem so trite. All of a sudden, Lawrence Kasdan seems to have locked in on a particular moment in time and put it on film. The soundtrack of my life is different, but many of those emotions ring true. I'm very lucky to be able to have that in real life. I'm very lucky to have friends like her. I'm very lucky to have her in my life.
There, that wasn't so hard, was it?