in one of my previous careers, i was the only woman on a testosterone laden sales team for one of the professional sports teams in our city. these guys were my colleagues, my competitors, my harshest critics (with the exception of my mother), my biggest advocates and my big brothers. they pushed me to embrace my natural competitive side, to be comfortable in my own skin, professionally, and they, as patiently as they could muster, taught me to golf.
ok, so they had to, because we kept getting entered into local, charitable golf tournaments and they had to have at least one woman in the foursome. lol the four of us, the “core”, were a clique. there is no other way to describe it. as the team improved, the sales team needed to grow. we welcomed new members but admittedly at arms length. we were the four musketeers.
as we grew up, got married, moved out of the entertainment industry, and to be clear, professional sports *is* entertainment, we drifted apart as one would expect when life takes all of us in different directions. we share the usual holiday cards and are all connected via the typical social media sites. and for a couple of us, with kids that are roughly the same age, we would cross paths at sporting events, school competitions etc.
three of us have law degrees but never practiced. of the three, one of us maintains certification and is licensed to practice in three states. all four of us remain married to the people we met and or were dating when the four of us were a team. one moved into a lifelong career in the non-profit world where he is considered an expert in the work the foundation he is the director of does. another dove headlong into the “old school” corporate world along side his corporate attorney wife and they are definitely a power couple in the world of philanthropy and the arts. two of us eventually ended up at the same global company on the same corporate campus several buildings apart.
our lives have intertwined, intersected and run in parallel for almost 25-years. the good. the bad. even the scandalous (and no, not me!) and the great. but for the first time, death has taken one of us. for good.
it’s not just devastating for the usual reasons but because of the four of us, Manny was the youngest, the most physically fit, the most gifted in all aspects of the word. he was kind, he was bold, he was generous in spirit and heart. he loved his family and his extended family. his generosity knew no bounds. he was the one i called, my favorite big brother. we would laugh until late into the night or pull harmless office pranks with and the one that understood and joined in when i first started volunteering at the homeless shelter for youth way back when. and when he started dating Susie, he made sure we knew that she was the one. and that while we were still a foursome, Susie was his number one. They were married just after we had all moved on from the “team” . It was clearly a match made in heaven. that isn’t to say it was perfect and that there weren’t times the three of us wondered if they would make it for the long haul, but we also knew that if any of the four of us would make it for the long haul, Manny and Susie would.
Seeing her yesterday afternoon, when we gathered at the hospital as soon as the calls started making their way through our various networks, made me think of the day he told us he was going to propose and asked us to help him make it a grand gesture. or the day he told us that we were going to be an auntie and uncles and the day we watched him hold her when they told us our nephew wouldn’t be joining this world after all. Manny was accidentally hit by a car as he was walking from the bus stop to his home after work Monday night. A car driven by a young new driver, a driver who has only had their license for three weeks. A driver who happens to be the oldest daughter of one of us. A “niece” to him and Susie, a cousin to their kids, our kids. An accident. She wasn’t texting, believe it or not, she doesn’t have a cell phone. the police said that speed, drugs or alcohol weren’t involved. it’s been ruled an accident. possibly caused by the sun shining in her eyes as Manny and two others stepped from the bus into the crosswalk.
We are all devastated and two families are shattered in ways that many would think only happens in a bad tv movie. Who knows what’s yet to come. For now, we remaining three are planning Manny’s wake while at the same time, being supportive of the one whose daughter’s life has been changed forever.