I saw Ralph last Saturday at Mike and Marie's holiday party. I haven't seen him in two years, not since the last time Eric and I were able to be at M&Ms holiday party. Ralph is a friend of my husband, they used to work for the same company, and Ralph lives a mere seven minutes from our house (not that we ever see him!)
What distinguishes Ralph to me is that he knew me during my happiest time and through my saddest, a span of only three years. When I met Ralph, we hit it off right away - he was a good buddy of Eric's and through lots of fun times, parties and outings, we had a blast. We're even the same sign, Capricorn, but don't ask me what that might have to do with anything.
After Solomon, I was a different person. And somehow Ralph gave me laughs two and three. It sounds funny to write it like that but that's how it was.
At Atlantis in the Bahamas, I spent a miserable week. This was Eric's company trip and he worked really hard to earn it. I was devastated as I'd planned to be pregnant, nearly 8 months so and here I was, nothing. One night we were at one of the club with Ralph, Mike, Marie and some others. All of a sudden, Ralph starts rapping to a Madonna song, I forget which one. The hilarity of the situation is hard to capture. Ralph was a 40-ish, short, Italian, divorced-with-no-children, guy from Queens. He did not fit any mold of any rapper anywhere on the planet. The joy I felt at laughing in relief could be measured on the Richter scale. That was laugh #2.
Of course I was pregnant for the third time in January 2001, dreading what would happen in the future. Eric convinced me we should go away for a ski weekend, in which I wouldn't ski, go snow-mobiling, drink or sit in the hot tub. So I read a book, White Oleander by Janet Fitch, and an issue of "O" - the magazine Oprah Winfrey puts out. Ralph, Mike and Marie and assorted brothers, brothers-in-laws and friends of Mike and Ralph's were also at the cabin. I forgot which meal it was, we were all gathered around. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. All of a sudden, Ralph starts to sink. Now mind you he is already sitting in a chair at the dinner table and seems to be moving south involuntarily. Turns out, the chair rail started to deteriorate right before everyones eyes. We were all a ball of hysterics, even me. When Ralph finally emerged from the floor, you could tell he thought this was just the funniest thing.
We spoke about Ralph's chair incident on Saturday, and I've been meaning to post since then. When I think back to the dark time, it's hard to remember that there were glimpses of light. And Ralph is someone whom I lease expected to be the light-giver.