Gobsmacked combines the northern English and Scottish slang term gob, mouth, with the verb smack. It suggests the speaker is utterly astonished or astounded. It’s much stronger than just being surprised; it’s used for something that leaves you speechless, or otherwise stops you dead in your tracks. It suggests that something is as surprising as being suddenly hit in the face.
I have always loved that term. I rarely have any use for it. Last week all that changed.
I met up with an old friend that I hadn’t seen in many years. We live different lives in different places and rarely connect. He was traveling through the area and we planned on breakfast.
The visit was pleasant enough although I didn’t feel the connection. When you see an old friend, you can usually pick up right where you left off. I wasn’t feeling that. There was an elephant in the room. I thought it was me.
My week was hectic and much of it was overshadowed by a nagging headache. As is my style, I was convinced it was either an aneurism or a brain tumour. Why else would it hurt so much?
At the end of the breakfast he said he had something to tell me. I didn’t have a clue but I was all ears. That’s when the elephant came out.
Turns out that he has a progressive terminal illness — the kind that you die from (although I don’t think there are any other kinds).
For the first time in my entire life I was speechless or truly gobsmacked.
I had no words of wisdom, no words of comfort, no words at all. I stood there with my mouth gaping open while a very calm person talked about the possible ways his life could end. Most of them were not pleasant.
It was surreal. I have friends who have died. They were ill. There were signs.
Someone warned you or your spidey sense picked up on it. There was time before the book slams shut. You could prepare.
This past year I have been gobsmacked by two people with extraordinary illnesses. The kind of illnesses that you never heard before and have to look up.
They are words with lots of syllables that you practice saying to get it right.
The words are hard to remember so you revert to acronyms.
Even when you read about them you still don’t comprehend.
I am developing an aversion to one-on-one meetings for fear bad news will join for dessert.
This isn’t about me.
It’s really about closing chapters.
When a person dies, that chapter is closed forever. There are no more memories to be made. No more laughs. No more giggles. It’s done.
As he left he said this would be the last time I saw him. Fini.
It’s more common to be unaware that you are seeing someone for the last time. You get the news of their death and remember your last interaction. Sometimes you wish you had said things. In this case, I was too gobsmacked to say those things anyway.
Treasure your day. None of us really know which one will be our last.