Its been 3 years minus a day when I heard my friend Keith Pearch suddenly past away. I remember being at work, just finishing up with a patient when I heard my phone ringing. It was my friend Jocelyne, which I thought was a bit odd because she never called me this early in the morning, so of course I answered it right away.
Jocelyne’s partner Elmer was the caretaker in a large apartment complex, and when I answered the phone I could immediately tell something was wrong. She told me that while working, Elmer discovered that our mutual friend Keith had passed away very suddenly. At first I completely blanked. I remember saying to her, “What, Keith who?”
I honestly don’t know why I blanked the way I did. The four of us would get together quite often, maybe it was just my brain’s way of processing denial if only for a few seconds. Then it hit me. I panicked, I cried, all while trying to keep it together being in the middle of the hallway at my office at the time.
It’s funny how you react when you get hit with surprising news, and how your brain seems to rationalize everything while you’re doing it. After I got off the phone I immediately called my friend Scott, someone I had never actually called before to let him know what happened. I dropped the bomb on him, he was at work too and probably had zero idea where this was all coming from. My call etiquette was entirely out the window because I think I remember just hitting him with the news and telling him I had to go, and hung up. It wouldn’t have been until the funeral that I later spoke with him again to explain what I must have been thinking.
After the call, in the most unintensional diva-ish execution possible, I emotionally told my receptionist to cancel the rest of my appointments and left for the day, kind of like how the do it in the movies. It’s funny looking back on how that went down because in my mind I know Keith would have probably laughed and found that hilarious.
I headed over to meet up with Jocelyne and Elmer where we just sat in their living room, sometimes we would talk but it was mostly just us sitting there quietly in the same room where all four of us would have been maybe only a month ago. It was at this moment I realized that we were likely the first few people who knew of his passing, which meant I had to keep my mouth shut since I had no way of knowing if Keith’s family had been notified yet. This of course made the rest of the day for me particularly surreal.
I remember picking up a bottle of wine on the way home, one of Keith’s favorite of course and took to instagram. I posted the bottle just sitting on my deck with the sunlight hitting it in just the right way and commented “cheers to you, my friend” and that was it.
Both Keith and I worked in healthcare for years, and this was one of the wines that we often enjoyed together while we decompressed from the rest of the world. I remember feeling particularly disheartened that I had lost a really good friend who also understood the challenges that health practitioners tend to go through in our line of work.