Friday, February 18, 2011

I Heard Her Say "Biology"

We were like two ships that passed in the night, and I just heard one toot of the horn.

It happened 20 minutes ago. The experience is already wearing off, already losing some of its magical quality. But as long as I can maintain interest, I'll try to convey something of what happened. It wasn't much ... or was it?

Like I said, it was just 20 minutes ago. I was driving home. Since it's a nice day, I had my window rolled down. I came to a particular corner fairly near to home. There was a student, I believe she was at a corner waiting to cross the street, then in the process of crossing. As I drove by, I heard her say on the phone one word, "Biology." She probably was saying more, but because I was driving, accelerating through the intersection and away from her, that's all I heard.

Since I still had maybe eight blocks to go to get home, I started thinking, "What if they asked me to speak at her funeral? To get up and say a few words about her, that this was all I knew." I honestly didn't even look at her, so I wouldn't know what she looked like. I know she was young, like many students are, but that's about it. What would I have to go on, just this one word, "Biology."

It's definitely a word that means something to me. I never did that well at biology, not that I'm incapable of excelling, because I am. It's just at the time, at that moment, I wasn't into it and didn't apply myself. Whether she shares something of that problem -- and happened to be on the phone telling a friend of her dislike of biology -- I guess I'll never know. It could just as easily been that she was telling someone her favorite subject in the whole world and what she wants to dedicate her life to.

So let's say that they didn't really have anyone to speak at her funeral, but somehow they knew that she and I had this passing relationship, a guy driving by just as she was on the phone, and maybe if she'd been run over by the guy behind me. Did she say anything? What was her last word? I only heard one word, and I would be truthful as to what it was, racking my mind -- oh, yes -- it was "Biology."

Could you, would you say something at her funeral. It would've meant a lot to her. It would? Why? That's just the kind of person she was. Oh, I didn't know that.

I would have to prepare my remarks with the word in mind, "Biology."

"I believe if ______ (let's just say Stephanie), if Stephanie were here today she would want us to know she had a happy life, and that we wouldn't be too over burdened with grief. There's a subject I believe was very dear to her heart, and I hope you agree, which was Biology. Biology is a subject where lifeforms come and go. That's just the way it is. I heard her discussing it on the phone -- I wasn't eavesdropping, just passing by and I couldn't help but hear it through an open window -- and I believe she expressed it with a lot of respect in her voice, like she couldn't wait to spend the upcoming weekend, a nice weekend, studying Biology. Had she lived, she might've become a great biologist, perhaps a professor. What she might've discovered in her chosen field, we shall never know. But it would've been something."

It's too bad that I'll never get to know Stephanie, or whatever her name is. Because I might ask, "That day, why were you talking about Biology? Did you mean for me to overhear you? Because if you did, you really timed it well. But why would you mean for a random person driving by to hear this particular word, when it could have been any word, depending on the context of your phone conversation and how it had progressed?"

Such questions, such speculations are making me sleepy. Plus, it's all so vain, because I never will know. Had I known in advance, wouldn't that have been great. I could've anticipated the exact moment when she was to say it, and with such clarity. I would've strained to hear what she said before that, then after. I would've at least glanced over and seen what she looked like, just in case we'd ever meet again and I wanted to ask her about the context and the subject. But now, all my chances are passed.

We didn't really have Biology, but it's all we had, and, like they say in the movies, we'll always have Biology.

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