I just had the strangest phone call from my friend, Victor. Victor and I were the bestest of friends for years, having met at work and later sharing an apartment. As happens with me, we drifted apart after I moved to Seattle and have only spoken extremely infrequently.
Before I moved back to Michigan, I told him I was coming. When I arrived and got set up, I sent him in email and told him I’d call “soon.” As also often happens with me, I spaced calling him. I think of Victor all the time, but never take a moment to actually phone him.
A couple of weeks ago, Victor decided to try to track me down. He didn’t have my cell phone number (or apparently my current email,) so he found my grandfather’s phone number online.
As you may recall, my grandfather and I had a massive falling out in July. Evidently, Grandpa still holds a grudge, because this is what happened when Victor called him. Victor stated who he was and that he was trying to find me.
“She’s dead,” my grandfather replied.
Victor knew that my grandma had died last fall, and thought perhaps Grandpa hadn’t heard him clearly.
“No, no,” Victor restated, clearly; “Your granddaughter,” and then gave my full name.
“She’s dead and I don’t want to talk about it,” Grandpa said and hung up.
So, for the last two weeks, Victor has thought that I’m dead.
Today, he somehow managed to remember the name of my mom’s place of business, and called her to find out how I had died. He was shocked to hear that I was still alive, and called me right away.
“I’ve been mourning for you for two weeks!” he said. “It’s so incredibly surreal to be talking to you right now, I can’t even tell you.”
I feel utterly sick to my stomach.
If someone had told me, out of the blue, that Victor had died, I would be beside myself with grief. I can’t imagine the flickering light that is Victor not being here in my world, even if only on the periphery. Victor and I helped to shape each other’s young adulthood in instrumental and silly ways. There are things that I find absolutely hysterical that no one else in this world would understand except for Victor. Our best friends, even our former best friends, are precious, precious things.
Even though we haven’t seen each other in years, he and I were so incredibly close, shared so many happy times and memories that it would be an enormous blow. I still feel close to Victor, despite the passage of time.
Couple my empathetic sadness for what Victor has experienced with the fact that I am apparently dead to my grandpa…well, I’ve had better afternoons. A small part of me thinks that maybe he was confused and couldn’t hear what Victor was saying, but I don’t really believe that. I can’t understand why he would tell someone I’m dead! Why not just say that he doesn’t know me, or that he doesn’t know where I am? Dead? Being “dead to him” is one thing, but actually telling my friends that I am dead?
Thankfully, I don’t imagine many people would ever call him looking for me, but this is just so profoundly disturbing. No wonder I frequently have nightmares about him; not too many nights pass before he shows up in my dreams, furious and ranting.
Still, this is the oddest sort of hurt I’ve ever felt. I can’t think of any word to describe the bizarreness it. It is profoundly strange.