On Thursday morning I was preparing to fly to New York to attend a milestone birthday celebration for a good friend.
People were coming from all over the country for the party. Everybody was looking forward to a night of music, entertainment, excellent food, and a major roast of our friend on her big day.
Just before the cab came to take me to the airport, I got a call.
Another good friend, this one in LA, had unexpectedly died. I had to sit down.
Both women were about the same age. They were both moms and young grandmoms. Both were runners.
One just gave the commencement address at her college alma mater. The other had been teaching at the university level herself for twenty years.
One was a published author. The other had been a two-time Olympian.
Amazingly, it was the former Olympian who died -- probably from an untreated infection she got in Mexico last spring -- which ultimately destroyed her heart.
Imagine what a disconnect it is for a doctor to examine a a finely-tuned athlete, slim, and toned, who has all the symptoms of congestive heart failure. But shouldn't.
How can this be?
She was at UCLA in the midst of tests to get her a place on the heart transplant list, when she passed away.
After being told not to cancel my plans, even though I was ready to turn the plane around and go the other way, figuratively speaking, I tucked my shock and sadness into a private place and went to an absolutely wonderful celebration for my other friend in New York. She deserved my full attention on her happy day. And I was able to give it to her.
So now I find myself at home and facing some very melancholy thoughts. How could this happen to one of the best athletes I've ever known? She was still competing in national age group tournaments in her sport and winning championships, just last year.
Her whole large, extended family is devastated. Especially her mother.
The university has a huge memorial planned for her early in October.
I'll be there.