Thursday, September 11, 2008

Regarding Frank

So I'm a boy in the chorus again. The first rehearsal was Tuesday night.

I took a year off to regroup and use every free minute to deliver pizza, but now that gas is E.D.A.A.L.B.P.G., it's cheaper to not be pizza delivery guy.

Anyway, I'm at rehearsal, and someone's in MY spot... or what WAS my spot before I had to take a year off to try to get things on track, anyway (there's another story about my taking a year off something that ALSO ends with someone else taking my spot, but I'll hold off on that tale until I'm less bitter about it). Also, as I had to re-audition, I'd been moved from an upper bass to a lower bass.

So I wasn't sure where to sit.

Which was somewhat upsetting, because my chorus buddy (and that was his actual role my first season--the person who introduces me to the whole group and makes me feel welcome and all that) Frank had always sat beside me, and he can sight read much better than I can (which is pretty much not at all0.

Frank hadn't arrived yet, and I was trying to figure out just how many seats to move down from my regular spot. Kevin walked up and said "hey", and I explained that I was trying to figure out where to sit now, and when Frank got there I was going to ask him where I should sit (and hoped it would be within hearing-range of him, since our section doesn't split THAT much, and I could still listen to him for most of the notes).

I should explain at this point that Frank and I occasionally exchanged e-mails (he was the one who e-mailed me to tell me I got my first solo the year I broke my leg and nearly died), but Frank was mainly just a chorus-buddy with whom I could sit next to and joke, and general enjoy the rehearsal period--and also the performances, as he stood right next to me... back when we were both upper basses, anyway.

Anyway, my last e-mail to or from Frank was probably long before I took the year off.

Still, sitting next to or near Frank and catching up with him were two of the three or four events I was really looking forward to this particular Tuesday night.

So, back to the present (of the story, anyway): Kevin looked at me and said, "Isn't he the one who passed away?"

Well, now, what do you do with that?

Some part of my mind had the firm believe that SOMEONE would have told me.

And another part of my mind remembered that I've been without a working e-mail account at least once over the past few months.

Kevin said he wasn't sure whether it was Frank or not (he doesn't know a lot of people in the chorus, and he's not in my section, so he wasn't sure of the name, etc.). He asked me if Frank had been in the chorus since it had started, and I said he had.

And Kevin said, "Well, whoever this was, he'd been in the chorus since the beginning."

That narrowed it down to maybe two or three people... and to just one if he meant "Done every concert since the beginning."

I told Kevin I had to go find Tom (because Tom knew everybody in the chorus, and if this was Frank we were talking about, he'd know).

I found Tom, sat down next to him, and said, "I have to ask you a question that may lead to a very uncomfortable conversation."

Which is a great way to get someone's attention, by the way.

I continued with, "Where's Frank?"

And then there's one of those moments that lasts forever because the stupid brain--even if it sometimes can't figure out how to plan ahead or plan a budget or anything useful--suddenly does all sorts of processing, the side-effect of which is everything slowing down.

I immediately knew it was Frank who died, just from the look on Tom's face.

Three years later, Tom asked, "Didn't you get the e-mail?"

And I replied that I needed to step outside for a bit.

Luckily, my car wasn't too far away, and I could sit in it and do a sort of primal scream thing, and then make it back to rehearsal.

Tom had told me to find him during the break and he'd tell me the details, but yes, Frank was no longer with us.

As far as shock-and-sudden=pain impact goes, this is one of the top five worst deaths I've ever been "close" to.

So it was fun learning new songs (especially the one we sing in memoriam of those who have gone on), thinking of how Frank always made us little holiday pins to wear for the first act of the concert, thinking how I missed EVERYTHING except for stopping by his grave and saying how sorry I am that I didn't even know he'd been ill...

Yeah, good times.

I caught up with Tom for the story. It's a fun one.

Short version: Frank needed a heart transplant. Frank didn't have insurance that would cover his meds. Meds would cost thousands of dollars (or at least a thousand dollars) a month for the rest of his life. The policy in such a case is: No heart for you.


The outrages continue, the next part involving his funeral service and the Catholic church, but I won't delve into that here.

In the end all that matters is Frank being alive came down to a policy decision, and because I was out of the loop for a year (and maybe because I didn't have working e-mail for part of June), I didn't even know he'd died.

And no complaining posts that this is turning into, because I've already thought that.

So I need to find out where Frank is buried and go pay my respects. Maybe I'll take a keyboard and this concert's music and he can help me through teaching myself these songs...


Andy B. said...

Wow, Mark. I am so sorry. Life continues hurling meteors.

Chris Talbott said...

Wow. That's a rough one. And as a story, it beats the hell out of mine, but I'll share anyway.

To set the stage, years ago, I'd met this woman online. We dated for a little while, but mostly decided we were better friends than anything. We'd exchange email at least once a day, but there'd be stretches where I wouldn't hear from her or she wouldn't hear from me. And usually, what'd happen is that one of us would realize it'd be quiet, and send a message to the other, which would start the, "oh, I was busy with this" chain, and everything would go back to normal.

So, last May (2007), I had sent out a couple of the traditional messages with no reply. I guess subconsciously, I knew what I was looking for when I Googled her name in June.

You know, even if later, you suspect you knew it was coming, nothing really quite prepares you for seeing an obituary on a 40-year-old woman. Particularly when its over a month old.

Sometimes, I wonder who got the job of going through her work email account after she died. There were at least three messages waiting there, with the usual greeting Loreene and I used when one or the other was gone for a while...

"You dead?"

disa said...