“Oh, no!” I exclaimed. I started sobbing. The young Asian gentleman sitting beside me on the plane has that dude look of, “She’s crying, what should I do?” That saccharine voice is telling us to turn off our portable electronic devices so the plane can taxi to the runway. “I’m sorry. I just found out my husband’s mentor died.”
The French gentleman behind me is discussing moisturizers with his fellow female passenger. How long can a man discuss moisturizers? We haven’t even made it to our runway and I am a complete mess. My travel Kleenex are securely stowed in the overhead bin. I’m not going to make it to drink service before resorting to use my sleeve. I fall on the mercy of Moisture Man. Thankfully, he hands me a stack of Starbucks napkins. I cry the whole two hour plane ride between LA and Seattle. When I arrive, it is raining. It’s always raining in Seattle.
Eleven years ago when we arrived in LA, my husband was fresh out of grad school, eager to
become an excellent therapist, but fearful having just experienced two difficult employment situations. A friend introduced us to this psychologist who had a clinic in LA. He gave Tim a job but the first year was tough. The psychologist was harsh. He did
not accept less than excellence. He was always looking for the next cutting edge techniques. He was abrupt, brisk and passionate, always sure he was right. He told distasteful jokes. He was a pain in the ass. But he helped people. He loved people. He tried to hide his love behind the truth to protect himself, but we could see it.
He taught Tim to wear impeccable shoes, to drink scotch, to be generous with what he has, to be fearless in helping people face their worst memories and terrors. He and his wife made us family.
At dinner parties and holiday celebrations he would walk past me and say, “Then there was this girl from Indiana…” in his Bronx accent.
Fast forward ten years. We have a house, a kid and Tim now has his own clinic with his own employees. He still works for his mentor one day a week, and has a deep and true friendship with his mentor’s son and fellow therapist. It’s time to cut the cord professionally, but we fear the lack of business connection will cause the friendship with the mentor and his wife to grow cold. He throws a lovely office party where people take turns thanking Tim for his work at the clinic. Then Tim and I get a turn to thank the psychologist.
I teared up as I thanked him for all that he did to help Tim and I to get to where we are at both personally and professionally. Two days later I was still a bit embarrassed I needed a tissue at an office party.
But God knew. He knew that three months later I would exit a plane into SeaTac Airport, toss a handful of soggy Starbucks napkins into the trash, and step out into a dreary world where Dumbledore is dead. We might not like everything he did. He was far from perfect. But he did his best to give us what we needed to continue the battle after he was gone. Somehow, we will figure it out.
But right now, I would give almost anything to hear him tell one of his horrible jokes just one more time.
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