Dear Girl on the Phone from UCLA

Phone on bed in DC house

I’m so sorry that you had to get me, of all people, when you innocently called to ask for money. I’m so sorry I picked up. I never do. But I saw the 310 area code and I thought it might be an old friend from college and really I just wanted to chat with someone tonight. Someone who once knew me and loved me. Someone from the past who remembered when I was young and fun and had not a care in the world.

But it was you. You read from a script and you asked me how I was doing and you told me about all of the great things that are happening at UCLA. I let you go on and on because I didn’t know how to interrupt you. I could hear your youth and idealism in your voice.

They probably hired you for minimum wage to call people and ask for money. I know because I did things like this in college too. Probably almost no one gives you money but probably everyone is better to talk to than me. Maybe you don’t even really care because after this you’re going to go out to one of those great bars – is Maloneys still around? – to hang with your friends until the wee hours of the morning because it’s Tuesday. And it’s LA and it’s beautiful and you just make these calls so you can do the fun stuff later.

Most people don’t answer. But I did. And then, because I have to tell everyone everything, I told you my story. “My husband just died,” I began, “and I am 39 years old and I have three little kids and I don’t know what I’m going to do.”

You couldn’t reply because you didn’t know how to respond to that. I kept talking because that’s what I do now that my filter is low and my need to connect with others is high. You could barely speak because you are 21 and the idea that someone’s husband can die when they are less than double your age is horrifying. You didn’t know what to say to me. So I kept talking and wishing you well and telling you that you would get plenty of other people to donate. I volunteered more than you needed to know about what was happening with me and you sat there and listened.

I needed someone to talk to tonight, when the other side of the bed was empty, and you called. That’s why I answered, but I certainly didn’t expect to get you, and you definitely didn’t expect to get me. You are just a kid, really. You felt awkward – I could hear it in your voice. As we hung up just a few minutes later, you tried to say that things would be okay. But even though you are so young, you didn’t really believe that.

I’m so sorry that I sent a big dose of real-world garbage over the phone to you. I wasn’t mean, but I think my reality was a lot for you.

I get it.  It’s a lot for me most days.

4 Replies to “Dear Girl on the Phone from UCLA”

  1. Far better to talk too much than too little.

    1. I agree. Sometimes, it makes things uncomfortable for others, but that’s what ultimately connects us.

  2. It is so much, Marge, and so good to let it out. We all should talk about death and grief and real, raw life more often like you do. You’re amazing. ❤️

    1. Thanks my friend. It’s funny, because all of the people I heard from after writing this piece have experiences deep, deep loss. I think that what I wrote is something that many grieving people experience. Love you.

Leave a Reply