The Questionable End Date

I scrolled down through the headlines, and saw the name. David Rakoff. It’s a name that often proceeds a sentence similar to this “Ssshhhh, this one’s by David Rakoff – this’ll be good”. He’s one of my favourites on This American Life. I’ve been seeking him out for years, his voice was immediately recognizable, unique, both literally and physically. The honesty, the sarcastic wit, the ability to describe the deepest feeling in the most physical sense.

I never told him.

He’s the reason I’ve sat in my driveway while the neighbours have wandered by not understanding my motionless state, the fixed grin. It was him that had me not wanting to get out of the car until I’d heard each word. Sometimes twice. It was his stories that I retold over coffee or dinner. “I was listening to this guy on This American Life, he was talking about…

I never said thank you.

I knew the answer when I asked the question to no-one in particular, it was one of those questions that are said out loud in the vein hope that maybe an alternative answer can be provided “Why is there an end date?”  David Rakoff 1964 – 2012.

How is it that I had devoured each word, giggled at each joke and appreciated each description without ever once writing a quick but sincere “thank you” or “I love your work” or “I think you have an amazing talent”.

Years ago, in my party years, when a temporary job held a lot more appeal than a full time commitment, I was assigned to work on the front desk of a large corporation. As the receptionist ran through the tasks for the day she rang the local deli to make her daily lunch order. In a split second she moved from a space of overt cheerfulness to a crumpled mess on the floor. “He’s dead!” she kept repeating, sobbing in a mixture of shock and confusion. I didn’t understand, wasn’t she just ordering a sandwich?

It was much more than that.

The sandwich guy stopped by each day for a chat, he asked about her impending wedding, he knew her parents were going through a divorce and it was keeping her awake at night. He genuinely seemed to care about her life, he always had a second or a third question after the initial banality, his how are you had meaning. She was going to invite him to her wedding. She wanted him to know that he was special, that he was appreciated. “I didn’t even get to invite him? I didn’t get to tell him how I felt. I didn’t even say thank you”.

I’m not sure if Ive ever told my sister in law how I love watching her with the little travelers, that I love how they love her. I haven’t thanked my friend Kimberley for arriving at my house with a big plate of schnitzels and a chocolate cake when I broke my ankle. I haven’t told Nicky Gemmel that I once bought two copies of Saturday’s Australian because the first one didn’t have the magazine, and it wouldn’t feel like a proper weekend if I hadn’t read her column. I haven’t told Angela Mollard that I look each day on The Punch, hoping she’s written a piece, or that I often check Edenland’s blog three times a day just incase she’s written something new.

I need to remember to say thank you. I need to remember that sometimes there’s a surprise end date.

And for my Canadian friends – I had to share this.

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