Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Part 2: "Emergency Work Mode"

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
I called my friend's husband back immediately. He was on the phone with another friend of ours and I knew they'd be on for a very long time, so I asked him to quickly tell me how he was and what I could do. He told me he was having trouble finding numbers and to call everyone I could think of. I knew that wasn't going to work quite right, but since he was on the other line I told him I'd call him the following morning and we'd talk more then.

That night I felt.... You know, I don't have the words. It was awful.

The next day, a series of events pushed me into what's probably best described as "emergency work mode" -Something I do well.

My friend didn't own a computer. She hated them. So all phone numbers and addresses were in various handwritten phone books, or on little slips or paper, or just in her head. When I spoke to her husband the next day, he told me he was having trouble finding her phone books (because that was always her department) and he was upset because the books he had found were missing contact information for several of their very close friends and he had no idea how to get in touch with them.

I spent the first part of that day on the phone tracking down some contact info for him and getting additional information from the funeral home, in between coordinating with two other friends of hers trying to figure out the best way to reach everybody with no central contact list to work from. We decided that with the exception of a handful of people we were going to call personally, an email campaign would be the best way to reach the greatest number of people in time for the funeral which was only a few days away.

Additionally, due to the fact that:
  • My friend's husband could only be reached before noon because he was continuing to go to work every day (because that's what she told him she wanted him to do if she ever died. Go to work the next day and not mope around the house!)
  • Her husband had accidentally given some people the wrong address for the funeral home. (Not his fault. He was overwhelmed.)
  • Due to a glitch on the funeral home's website, their site was giving out a completely different wrong address (unbelievable.)
  • There was going to be a benefit concert for her at a later date and details were still to come.
it became clear to me that we were also going to need a website. There needed to be a central source of easily accessible accurate information for the upcoming funeral, and later the concert, so that we could say "Here's what happened. Go to the website for more updates" without having to re-contact people every time there was new or corrected information.

I had a basic website up in an hour. Then I had to write an email that was detailed enough, concise enough, and gentle enough to inform hundreds of people that someone they knew had just died -in an email. That took about another hour. I ran both by the friends I was coordinating with, for their input and approval, then I continued to tweak the website while one of them continued to compile the email list. -Why did I continue to tweak the site? Because the whole time I felt like my friend was looking over my shoulder and saying things like:

"Don't use that picture of me, I look puffy!"

To which I replied:

"It's the best picture I have of you... the other ones are too small or too dark. This one is good and your dress looks great."


"A website? I hate computers! I don't want a website!"

To which I replied:

"Don't worry, it will look better when I'm finished. I know your style and I know what you like. It'll be very "you" when I'm done. TRUST me. Besides we
need it for now. If you hate it, I'll take it down after your damn funeral ok?!"

We "talked" like this for hours (my friend was very opinionated) and by midnight I had a site that I knew she'd be happy with. An hour later, the mailing list was completed and the email was sent. Over the next few days the website had hundreds of visitors.

The next day (New Year's Eve day) I wrote (and again, didn't post) the following:
I seem to have gone past the sobbing uncontrollably stage, to the "take action" stage (yesterday was a marathon day) and I'm kind of in the "fog" stage now. I have travel plans kind of half arranged... It's surreal, I'm numb, tired, confused, angry, sad... people who knew here are a mess right now. I put up a website in record time yesterday, and in less than a day it's already had 80 hits. And not everyone knows it's there yet.
New Year's day is kind of a blur for me... I think I stopped by a neighbor's at one point, and finalize my travel plans. -And changed my mind every hour or so about whether or not to blog about this. The next day, I woke up early, did a quick load of laundry, ran a few errands, got on a train, arrived at my hotel at around 1:45pm, and a short time later I was at the funeral home.

Next: Part 3: The Services



momof3gr8kids said...

I think writing about this experience is good for you to help you work through the shock of it all. {{{hugs}}}

Melissa said...

It does. It has. It's the "posting" of it that I'm unsure about. It's just been odd to write about something so much over the past couple of weeks, and then come here and act like nothing's happened. I felt disingenuous.

Not writing about something here because it's confidential or because I just *can't* write about it here, is one thing. But this... it felt like it was becoming a "taboo" subject for me and that felt odd.

I checked around some other blogs and no one really writes about this, which at first glance made me think "See? I shouldn't post about this." But then I thought, "actually... maybe that's why I should."

It should only be a couple more posts and then I'll return to lighter stuff.

Thank you for reading. :)

storyteller said...

I suspect people don't write about this kind of experience for a variety of reasons, but I'm glad you're taking a pro-active stance here. Unexpected death of a friend or loved one, especially when they've been healthy and are young, takes us by surprise. Shock follows ... along with all the stages of grief described by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her book On Death and Dying. Your idea to create a website to disseminate information along with the ability to follow through so quickly helped everyone ... perhaps even yourself, because being able to DO SOMETHING helps us regain a sense of control in the face of the uncontrollable. Trying to cover it up with "light stuph" and/or ignore the experience helps no one, so kudos for pushing through your hesitancy.
Hugs and blessings,

Kendra said...

I agree 100% with Storyteller...I could not have said it better myself. I appreciate you posting this..for a myriad of reasons that I can not seem to put into words. ((hugs))

momof3gr8kids said...

Another ditto for what storyteller said. Not only are you being true to yourself by blogging about this, I know for a fact you are helping others. Thank you.

Melissa said...

Thank you all again for reading and for commenting on this.