Fox 32 was airing the 1998 Halloween episode of The Simpsons when she called. I’d been expecting to hear from her, we had tentative plans. Her name showed up on my cell phone and I answered in a goofy voice. “Hellooooooooo Angelica,” I said, like the Big Bopper at the beginning of Chantilly Lace.
“Hi,” she said. And then: “so, my dad died.”
I can’t remember exactly what I said next, but there was at least one expletive, and expressions of shock and sympathy. As she explained the circumstances of her father's death my cat pressed her head into an empty yogurt cup that I’d left on the living room floor, and the 8 oz. container stuck to her face. “I’m sorry Angelica,” I said, as my cat tried to back out from the plastic cup, her shoulders lifting and dropping dramatically as she stepped backwards, like a film noir actress backing away from danger.
Earlier that day I’d fallen while running the trail in Horner Park; a root tripped me and as I flew through the air I tried to land with the least amount of damage, ending up on my stomach and chest, arms splayed wide. I wasn’t badly hurt, a smallish bruise showed up on my right knee a few hours later, but my hands, which had acted as brakes in the dirt, were fine. I dusted myself off and continued running. Now the moment seemed symbolic.
Angelica is in North Carolina now, where her brother lives... where her father died. Soon they will make the trek back to their hometown in Michigan, where funeral services will be held. I’ve been thinking about her a lot today.