This week, nothing went according to plan. But really, does it ever? The last five days, in particular, have felt like a board game where I keep landing on the space that says go back two spaces, or worse, go back to start. Except I can’t.
Last Saturday, I read the news that a 40-year-old man was struck and killed by a car while riding his bike. Earlier this week, I learned that this man was my college housemate and friend, Josh Alper. The sadness that has overcome me is strange. Even though we both continued to live in Santa Cruz after graduation, ours was more of a catch up when we run into each other friendship- not too hard in this small beach town.
Last month at Sherman Alexie’s Bookshop Santa Cruz event, a funny sequence of events led us to be next to each other in line to get the author’s autograph. We introduced each other to our spouses and caught up on everything from old housemates to forever renting to his job at UCSC, with lots of laughs in between. He was happy and upbeat that night- his norm actually- and Sherman Alexie dubbed Josh and his wife, Annette, the cutest couple in the building. Indeed! A part of me wants to write Alexie and let him know the news, because I know he would remember Josh after just one meeting.
While I’ve been plugging away with work and family responsibilities, I’ve been unable to focus, my mind wandering back and forth to memories of Josh and that period of time we lived together in “the pink house.” I didn’t expect to take down the shoebox of pictures from college this week.
And then there are my tears, just as scattered as my mind. I cry for his wife- now a young widow. His parents- he was their only child. I cry for things I can’t imagine and things I fear. I cry for the unknown. Today I’m sad knowing that I am missing his funeral service in Santa Cruz. I had a feeling it would happen during our planned trip to L.A.
I’ve shared my feelings with the kids, letting them know at lunch one day why mama is so sad. They were a bit younger when they last met him, so their memories of Josh aren’t strong, but they know our college house well. We pass by it several times each week, and I love pointing it out to them. It’s painted yellow now, but still looks to have some happy young college kids hanging out and making memories.