Thursday, November 21, 2013

Rainy Day, Dave Ashleigh

Rain yesterday. Thick, misty, silent except for the sizzle of tires on wet pavement. Heavy, yet not cold.

It matched my mood, gray and grumbly.

On Friday, I woke with my friend’s name in my head. Six-thirty. Far too early to call, so I wrote Call Dave & Marty on a sticky note and began my daily routine.

I made the call before eleven. Marty answered.

“How are you?” I asked.

“I’m fine, but Dave . . .”

NOOO! My head screamed while I listened to Marty explain that Dave was diagnosed with an aggressive leukemia last week and was now undergoing chemo at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica. She urged me to call his cell number.

Dave was my buddy throughout high school.

We dated just once when we were freshmen. We barely spoke that night and he seemed to avoid me at the party we attended. I wondered why he seemed so different from the wry, sparkly guy I knew – and got into trouble with – in Spanish class.

A few years ago, I learned the truth. That evening, he had a horrible case of gas. “You’ve been a family legend,” he told me. “Everyone knows the story of my date with Becky Darling* – cutest girl in the freshman class.” (*my given name)

Our classroom fun didn’t end, though, often earning us stern looks from teachers.

He dated a girl from another high school; I had a series of steady boyfriends. We graduated and went on to college – me to Oregon, Dave to junior college then UCLA with a scholarship in water polo and swimming.

My mother tried to arrange for him to meet my plane at Christmas my senior year, the one time my flight was diverted to Burbank. He visited me in Oregon later that year, when UCLA swam against Oregon. I think he met Marty about that same time.

He went on to participate in Olympic water polo, not once but twice.

We lost contact until our 45th reunion – a small picnic I helped coordinate. That’s when I met Marty. That’s when I was reminded what a gem he is, how blessed I am to know him. And, now, how pissed I am that he’s ill.

So, the rain yesterday gave me an excuse to be grumpy. It allowed me to be the negative voice at my book discussion group. It gave me time to understand why I had hacked up the vines by the back fence two days before. It washed the world shiny, freshened the air.

I pray that the chemicals they’re feeding Dave will wash him clean and well.

Rainy Day, Dave Ashleigh. But the sun's gonna shine soon.

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