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I've only met him four or five times in the almost five years I've known Nancy, mostly at get-togethers at their house.

I used to work with Nancy. She's one of those people who owns the workplace. She organizes everyone and helps them figure out their process and takes the ones who look lost under her wing. I was one of those.

I got to know Larry through Nancy's habit of living her life loudly and over the phone. Larry was needy and disorganized and prone to panic. Larry hated his job and had problems relating to his daughter and ex-wife. Larry had no sense of style or propriety.

The first time I went to their house, I was overwhelmed. It was a vast apartment over an antique store in San Mateo. The living room alone was easily 100 feet long, and had three full suites of furniture including two big-screen televisions and two stereos, one at each end of the room. One end of the room was decorated in very retro-50s furniture and accessories. The middle had a sort of Jackie-O thing going on, while the dining area at the far end was reserved for the sort of tchotchke-crowded style that one associates with one's grandmother.

My opinion of Larry had been colored by those countless one-sided phone conversations. Poor obsessive-compulsive gormless guy. He showed me his collection of vinyl records - a room twice the size of my bedroom, filled floor-to-ceiling with shelves filled wall to wall with vinyl albums. Remember the store in "High Fidelity"? That was him.

But then we started talking. We talked about current events and he made some very sly, low-key jokes that I thought were very funny. He would mutter little off-the-cuff remarks under his breath that had me in hysterics.

I watched their dog, a spoiled little Bichon Friese named "Miss Moo," while they were out of town one Thanksgiving, and when I gave her back, I had given her a pink mohawk. Nancy was scandalized, and Larry said he was upset, but his face didn't reflect that. Later, he said it again, but he was laughing.

We went out to dinner with them a couple of times, and every time he was funny and interesting and engaging. He indulged Nancy in her need to feel needed and important. He let her be powerful and right, and that was okay with him.

Nancy had been wanting to move back to her native Oklahoma since I met her, and two years ago she finally got that chance. She's been working out there, and I don't know what Larry was doing for a living. After she moved we chatted once in a while but not much and not often.

Last night, Nancy popped up on IM while I was at home looking for something on the computer. She said that things weren't going well and that she was very sad. My first instinct was that she and Larry had broken up and I was so sad. But it's worse. Larry died of a heart attack at the end of last month.

I feel so terrible for Nancy, and, as usual, at a loss as to how to adequately support her without coming off as insensitive or uncaring. We will cancel our plans for Sunday (such as they were) and go to the memorial being held in Millbrae, but beyond that, I just don't know what to say to her.

My poor friend.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2003 01:19 pm (UTC)
Oh, I'm so sorry.

Actually, that's also what you can say. I'm so sorry. He made me laugh. He had a wild sense of style.

Just being there, just *acknowledging* her loss is what matters.
Oct. 10th, 2003 02:25 pm (UTC)
I agree with Lynn.

Also, you know, not dropping off the face of the earth would be nice, I'm sure. Holly tells me that nothing will make your friends flee for the foothills like extreme personal tragedy-- it's like people are afraid you have the "widow disease" and will end up causing them to lose their husbands, too.
Oct. 10th, 2003 02:25 pm (UTC)
You don't really need to "say" anything. I mean, there's the usual "I'm sorry for your loss," and hugs, which are customary. But you don't need to try to find magic words that will somehow make things better. Her husband's dead; no words will make that better. What she does need is the presence of her friends... people offering to come over, to bring casseroles, to invite her places, to check in with phonecalls, repeatedly, for the next several months. Ask her how she is doing, listen if she wants to talk, keep her company in the usual ways if she doesn't want to talk. Above all, don't lose touch with her. You'll hurt her more by falling out of touch than by saying the wrong thing.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )