Skip to content

“We’ll talk…”

Patrick PennI can’t begin to think of how many times I heard the words “We’ll talk…” at the end of a phone conversation on a weekend night while sitting in Savannah, GA.

We’d taken to the phone calls happening almost weekly for most of my time living down there. I never questioned if we would talk again or not since the next conversation always came.

I’d called Patrick much less often in recent years. I’d actually wanted to meet up while I was in New York in September but of course never had enough time. I hadn’t wanted to bother him but I’d occasionally check in just to find out what’s going on. If I waited too long between calls I’d know since his number would come up on the cell phone.

The last two times I got to actually see him I was in New York because of my parents’ stays in the hospital. I was able to introduce him to Betsy when I agreed to come home for Thanksgiving in 2007 after my grandmother’s death earlier in the month.

He’d been the program director for the Lwanga Scholars program that I include on that list of things that people need to know about me. He’d also become one of the few people I kept in close contact with while I journeyed through life in Savannah. I only wish that there was some way to truly demonstrate how important that program was to me and my ability to express myself. I don’t even really think that I’d have any of these virtual outposts if it were not for that organization and Patrick.

He never questioned if everything would be OK, he simply talked to me as though eventually it would be. I don’t think I ever realized how helpful that was to me or how grateful I was for that vote of confidence again and again.

I got a phone call last Tuesday night from a fellow graduate of the Scholars program and high school. I’d been on the phone all day long and almost decided that I’d wait to return the call until morning. I thought I should return the call anyway since  he’d asked if I had planned on being in the city for my high school reunion a couple of weeks back. After getting through the niceties, I got told that Patrick had passed away earlier that evening…

I’m sitting in Birmingham, AL still not really sure what happened and I know that I can’t get to New York for this evening for the wake or tomorrow for the funeral. Part of me wondered if I’d actually failed in life since I couldn’t afford the trip or because I hadn’t tried a little harder to keep a better connection…

I even started wondering about how many people I truly trust in this world nowadays…

I’d just looked at the photo above a couple of weeks earlier as I was starting to scan images onto my laptop and had thought about making that Saturday evening phone call. I ended up sitting on the front porch with a glass of rum punch (that he’d made) in my hand that night doing the next best thing – I figured I’d just start a phone conversation. The only words that came to mind though were “Thank you” and “I love you” – then I started talking about all of the stuff going on around here.

After a while, I just stopped and said, “We’ll talk.”

We will…

Published inLife