A few minutes before showtime and I’m chatting up an 8th grade boy. He asks me what’s been going on in my life and I tell him my Dad died last Sunday. We pause. He looks into my eyes and says “Man, that sucks!” And he’s absolutely right. It does suck and at that moment that was the best, most honest thing for him to say. It sucks big time that my father’s voice won’t navigate me (through my cellphone) from Baltimore to Buffalo. It sucks that his wife will wake up alone. It sucks that he spent his last days unable to walk or feed himself, an egglike tumor bulging from his collarbone. It sucks that I feel bad even writing these words wondering who will read them someday and know more about Dad’s final days than he might want me to share. It all sucks, hard. I was so glad that young man responded the way he did. I needed to hear something simple and true. I didn’t want sympathy or tears. No violins playing in the background. I just wanted to share something that has dominated my soul since Palm Sunday when PaPa decided he’d had enough of this life and was ready to see what’s next. Maybe I’ll start saying that when folks share unfortunate news. Man, Judy that sucks that you lost your car and your husband. Thomas, you broke your shin? That sucks. And if I can manage to mean it, maybe for half a second my bare-as-bones words can ease his pain, can make him know I heard him, I feel him and I acknowledge that sometimes shit ain’t fair. Man, that sucks. It all does but we manage to survive. Broken shins and hearts and all.