Thursday, July 24, 2008

Untitled

Yesterday, I received a call at work from a man who identified himself as the son of one of my clients. He had a cheerful voice, which, as the conversation evolved, I realized was coming from shock and exhaustion.

He called to tell me his mother died at 3 AM, quite unexpectedly. That I needed to cancel the trip I'd prepared for her. He said she was all packed and ready to go. But she died. He said she'd been out walking the dog, that she thought she had a kidney stone - called the paramedics, went to the hospital, was rushed into surgery, and died from a ruptured artery in her stomach. And then he apologized to me for the inconvenience.

Yes, HE apologized to me, which further flummoxed me - I told him no, no, please, and I was so sorry for his loss - this woman was absolutely a delight. Just as lovely a person as I have ever worked with - full of vigor, and good humor. I am quite certain that her son was just sleep deprived and in shock at the loss to sound so cheerful - he said as much (cheerfully). He talked about his own son, who was to go on the elaborate trip with Grandma. It was just so sad. So sad.

No insurance. And everything (except the business class air) is in penalty. So I am scrambling to get the steepest penalties waived, AND we have to protect our commission - yes, it sounds harsh, but that's policy here. Work was done, and must be covered. My suppliers have been absolutely wonderful - they've all been quite quick in their response; one voluntarily waived the steep penalty (50%) for a more humane and reasonable flat fee. And everyone has the same reaction. Shock.

I think the real reason I'm writing this is because she absolutely lived her life full tilt. I would guess that she had absolutely no regrets (other than leaving her grandson without his Grand Europe trip). Every email, every conversation I ever had with her over the last four years was her just being full of life. Her example was just that: we don't know how much time we have, so we need to enjoy it fully. I will miss her large-print emails, and her wonderful demeanor.

What a loss.

20 comments:

Mary Ellen said...

How sad! I learned at a very young age that you never know when your time is up, I lost a brother who was one month from his 16th birthday when he died of a massive heart attack while running in gym class. That had such an impact on me that I do all I can to live life to its fullest. I've also stressed with my kids to always stay close to each other, petty arguments are a waste of time that they should spend with each other.

That was great that you were able to help out with the penalties with their travel. I'm not so sure every travel agent would have bothered.

DCup said...

Thanks for writing this. It did two things. It showed you to be an incredibly aware and kind person. You noticed this delightful client and you're doing what you can to help her family.

And you took a great opportunity to remind the rest of us that this thing - life - can be very, very fleeting.

Randal Graves said...

Ugh, that's just horrible, as is ME's story. Healthy or not, young or old, one just never knows. That's about as cliché as it gets, but there's truth in there.

Spartacus said...

DJ - Wow! What a story! I admire the way you handled the situation. You caring and compassion really shines through. Awesome.

DivaJood said...

M.E., how sad about your brother. What a shock. But yes, we have to live each day to the fullest. It's one of the reasons I am changing where I work - because the current position keeps us all tied to a desk. Working from home opens up all kinds of possibilities.

Dcup, thanks for the kind words. I don't feel kind (you should have seen me driving to work today - screaming at asshole drivers. Not serene.) But the death of this client was so sudden, so unexpected - at first I thought he was calling to say she had broken her hip and couldn't travel - but no - nothing so fortunate.

Spartacus, I do try to be good to my clients. Not always successful, but I do try.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

talking about life experiences dang

Border Explorer said...

What a shock. I'm so sorry. Thank you for sharing this story. It's so easy to forget that this life won't last forever.

an average patriot said...

Gee Diva! Sorry to hear that from all sides. Life and death what can you say without coming off as cold! That was handled well and my thoughts in the end are with the family!
Hey Torrance!

FranIAm said...

Oh my- you really tell this sad tale with grace and beauty and with such respect for the woman and her family.

To live well is a great thing and it sounds like she did it.

You are a treasure dear Divajood!

enigma4ever said...

wow...thanks for sharing her story...and being so sensitive and kind about her....that you remembered her as a person- not just a "customer".....and you showed such empathy to her and her son....what a shock...and yet...time is a gift- we all have too short a time here....really sweet post...hugs to you also that had to be a hard phone call...

((( When I get rich -cough...and hit LOTTO....and plan all my worldtravels- I will be sure to send all my business your way ;-)

DivaJood said...

Torrance, yep. Funny how life comes up and bites us in the ass.

Border, life is so short; it is essential to make the most out of it, and to do something meaningful.

Patriot, I especially feel bad for the grandson - he's got to be completely devastated.

FranIAm, all we can do in the service industry is to try to be of service. I try. Sometimes I get it right. I hope I did with this person.

Enigma, it was a shocker. I have, over the years, had to handle worse - two in particular, one of which almost had humorous elements. For a later post.

Ghost Dansing said...

i am so sorry to hear about your friend and client.......

Mariamariacuchita said...

It's always a shock when we lose someone, even if we knew them briefly, or in a business relationship. The last thing my father said when he died was that it all went by so quickly, that we should live each day as if it were the last.

betmo said...

sorry to hear that. wow. life is so very short- she had the right idea- to live each day as fully as possible with the ones we love. sharing.

DivaJood said...

maria, your father was right. Full tilt boogie.

betmo, life is quite short. Sweet, but short.

DivaJood said...

Ghost Dansing, thank you. It was shocking.

okjimm said...

What a neat Lady. Rather reminded me of my Aunt Helen. She was 84, was dealing with terminal pancreatic cancer...... and still did volunteer work at the local St. Vincent's on fridays. I remember she told me, when I said she should conserve her strength,

"What am I supposed to do? Just stay home and wait to die?"

Damn, I really loved her.

DivaJood said...

okjimm, I think I love your Aunt Helen. She had the right attitude, no kidding.

Bubs said...

Wow. Another reminder that we have no guarantees, eh? I think you handled that remarkably gracefully.

DivaJood said...

Bubs, thanks. And I even managed to get most of her trip refunded.