Life Interrupted

This is not the post I planned for today. But sometimes Life intervenes and will not be ignored. If you read comments on last Tuesday’s post later on Wednesday or afterward, you may have an idea of what’s coming. If not, I hope you’ll bear with me today.

The last few weeks have been stressful at work. (If you count our acquisition by another company in December, the last few months have been rough.) Deadlines to be met. Projects coming in all at once rather than a manageable few at a time. A large proposal to be submitted with too few people available to work on it. My husband and I were cranky and exhausted last Tuesday. We were looking forward to a five-day break where we could stop bitching and get the blood pressure back down. We deserved it after all those headaches, right? I mean, why does life have to be such a pain in the behind at times?

And then, Wednesday morning, Life reminded us how trivial all of that was.

We learned that a good friend and colleague from work had died on Tuesday while out of the office. And what could possibly be sadder news than that? How about the fact that many in his family were already in town because 1) they would be celebrating his parents’ 60th wedding anniversary over the weekend, and 2) he was supposed to get married this Thursday.

Shock. Numbness. Disbelief. Tears.

We’ve gone through them all, multiple times. It still doesn’t seem real. We tried to have the break we planned, which was mainly to relax, take in the 4th of July fireworks, and visit a historic site. But, really, how normal could it be? My plans to finally take photos of the fireworks were scrubbed. I just didn’t have the heart to bring the camera. The trip over the nearby Potomac River to Gunston Hall in Virginia was subdued not only because of the heat but also because we knew Sunday we would head east to Annapolis and the memorial and funeral.

The memorial and funeral. His mother was amazing, staying calm as we introduced ourselves—unable to hold back our tears. She was so strong for everyone there. We never know how strong we could be until a situation is thrust upon us. But I doubt I could ever have the grace and strength she showed on Sunday. Parents shouldn’t bear this load.

Yesterday we were back in the office for the first time since it happened. There was his office, just as he’d left it before heading out to pick up a security badge for an upcoming project and then the 4th of July holiday and family celebrations. It’s still too soon for someone to quietly sort through everything and, ultimately, prepare it for a new occupant. There were quiet moments taken with a colleague to continue grieving, but we all accomplished “real work,” too.  There are projects to complete, deadlines to meet, new proposals to be written. Life does go on. But for now, there’s a shift in the tide.

Next week I’ll post something more typical for me. But I wanted to remind everyone who reads this that in reality, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. And so even though you’ve heard this so many times before, a reminder never hurts. We don’t always get the chance to say goodbye. So today, please make time to let family and friends know how much you care and how important they are in your life. And then go make some good memories together.

39 thoughts on “Life Interrupted

  1. You write, ” But sometimes Life intervenes and will not be ignored. ” True but could this be a mere justification for something deeper? What shows up for you when you achieve outcomes which you did not intend for?

    Loved the post though.

    Shakti

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    • I’m afraid many of the deeper elements of life are beyond me. Maybe my soul isn’t yet old enough to understand them. So for now, I and others who knew him try to remember the good times and try to enjoy life the way he did.

      Thank you for stopping to comment, Shakti.

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  2. Once again I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend and colleague. I can’t imagine how difficult that must have been for you to walk past his office. Your reminder to let those around us know how blessed we are to have them is an important one. I wish you and his family continued strength as you struggle through this time of grief.

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    • Thank you, Carrie. It was hard, but I know time will take the edge off our emotions. I debated about just putting up a note today saying I’d be back next week. In retrospect, I think that might have been better. Readers may be uncomfortable with this kind of subject matter from me. But I promise next week will be something more typical.

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        • I hope you’re right. It’s just that I normally would have significantly more likes and comments by this time of day, and so far, only you and Shakti have made your presence known. I miss the interaction in the comments that I normally have.

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          • Well, even if they didn’t comment, I’m sure it gave them food for thought. There are some posts I come across where I don’t leave a comment because I’m not sure what to say, but that doesn’t mean the words didn’t move me.

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  3. Jacki, I went through a similar situation last February with a coworker of almost 18 years, Her office still sits empty with her business cards on her desk. No one has the heart to remove them, but rather remember her as she was. My thoughts go out to you during this difficult time.

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    • I think all of us at work understand exactly what you mean. I wouldn’t be surprised if every attempt is made to keep his office as is for as long as possible. He was with the original company for 22 years, and some folks knew him all those years. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment.

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  4. My heart goes out to you in the loss of your colleague and friend. It’s so strange when experiencing such a loss, how we feel like life just stopped, but somehow we see it still moving ahead. Blessings to you, your friend and his family.

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    • Thank you, Lori. I think it’s different when we have time to prepare, such as when someone faces a terminal illness. But when it’s completely unexpected, we’re thrown completely off balance. We’ll regain it as time passes, but even then, it will be a different balance.

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    • This was completely unexpected. When someone of advanced years passes, it’s something we know is coming. Or when someone has a terminal illness. I think we’re all trying to be better now about putting things in perspective. He always did, and we realize we should, too. It’s just such a hard way to learn a lesson.

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    • Thank you, Mayumi. He was a good person, always willing to lend a hand and refusing to let the little things get to him. I think we’re all trying to emulate him that way. And I hope we all succeed.

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  5. A earthquake of a jolt. So sorry to hear about a good life too short.
    The office must be very difficult.
    You post was quite timely and well written.
    Summer. Holiday. Times for reflection.
    Funny we were just talking about switching gears and making changes. You just never know when the Fates will decide your thread of life is long enough and pull out the scissors.
    May there be peace and comfort at this difficult time (That didn’t sound too much like a Hallmark card, I hope.)

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    • Today was tough for multiple reasons, including the fact that this was supposed to be the wedding day. The door to his office is closed, and I don’t think anyone has had the heart to go in there yet. But Life won’t be denied, and we’re all getting back into a semblance of a normal routine.

      Thank you for your thoughts, Mouse. And don’t worry—you are far too creative to ever sound like a greeting card.

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  6. So many people would have overlooked this chance for reflection and soul-searching. As painful as such a loss is the only way to process it, I believe, is to truly feel it. In grieving we not only heal our lives, we also honor those we mourn. Be patient and gentle with yourself. And thank you for the reminder that we never know what life will bring.

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    • Despite all the situations now going on, it was great to talk with you today, kiddo. And I am already working on improving my attitude toward the truly UNimportant daily nuisances and instead focusing on more positive thoughts for me and those around me. You be sure to take the time to take care of you, too.

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  7. JM, this is such an awful experience! We all know its coming – most of us will never know when and the people left behind in shock and sorrow try to figure out how to move forward in the new normal – a reality without that great person. I’m so sorry for your loss and hope your great memories of your friend help to get you through!

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    • Thank you, Arlene. When I look at the number of people I’ve lost from my life, I know it’s fewer than many others my age have faced. And maybe that makes it harder for me. I don’t know. I do know thatwe find our way forward again. It’s been a bit tougher, though, because I also just learned that one of my dearest friends is facing cancer surgery. Life has definitely succeeded in grabbing my attention these last two weeks. And I’m doing my best to understand the lesson it’s trying to impart!

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  8. Oh JM, I am so so sorry to hear that your friend and coworker passed on. It’s even more sad to think he had a wedding and a parent’s anniversary to celebrate. It’s really hard to return to normal. I do hope you take some time for yourself because that was not a restful break. And I’ll make sure to tell a few people how much they matter today. 🙂 Hugs!

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    • Thank you for your thoughts, Kourtney. We are hoping for a real break later this month or next. But, of course, the project load has decided to get heavier. Normally, I would say that’s a good thing. With recent events, I wish it could have waited a bit, though. Still, we’re moving forward. And that’s as Life should be. But we should always make time to remind others what they mean to us!

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      • I agree. 🙂 Sometimes it’s good to be distracted from personal pain. Othertimes it helps to sink into it and find your way through. I hope you are able to have what you need. 🙂

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  9. Pingback: Daisies and Super Suits | Joy in the Moments

  10. Things like this don’t seem to make sense. I am so sorry for the loss, I wish there were more to say. Thank you for the reminder that telling people how special they are is so very important.

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    • Thank you, Kate. Sometimes Life throws us a curve, and we just have to find our way through it. I think the reminder to let people know that we care about them can’t be overdone.

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  11. Ah I did miss a post of yours here! I’m so sorry about that, it always seems so unreal. A friend of Neil’s died at in June, he’d been ill for sometime, but not expected to die yet, he lived alone and was found dead in his apartment by the police, having already been there for a while, not sure exactly how long, maybe a few weeks. They’re not sure exactly how he died, and we feel so awful at the thought of him just dying alone there and nobody even realising he was gone for a while. You’re right though, these things do remind us of what is really important and that stressing over stupid little ups and downs is just, well, stupid!

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    • Oh, Vanessa, that is so tragic about Neil’s friend. That must have been a terrible feeling for everyone who knew him. We often get so wrapped up in our own lives, that we don’t keep those close connections with family and friends. In the past, neighbors might have been more likely to notice that something was wrong and to have taken action. Today, I think that’s more uncommon. Maybe there’s more of a tendency to think “that’s none of my business” or to just be so busy as to not even notice. Not everything in the modern world is “better” than the past!

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  12. When a tragedy happens, we are reminded of the wonderful things in life and how unexpectedly it can be taken away. I think the phrase ‘live life to fullest’ should be foremost in our minds yet the busyness of our lives and lifestyle tends to blind us.
    I am so sorry for the loss of your colleague.

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    • Thank you for the kind words, Luciana. And I think you are so right—we let the day-to-day work and lifestyle distract us from what’s really important. I am really trying to take this opportunity to bring a better balance to my life. I hope I can improve that at least a bit.

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  13. That’s very sad. I also heard that a friend who had moved back to Australia had died and she was in her 40s. Life cut short. It’s so true about living in the moment – and so few of us achieve it.

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    • I often catch myself thinking about the future and not the present. And while it’s good to have plans for retirement and such, it’s also important to enjoy what we’re doing now with family and friends.Two of my high school friends died young, too, at 39 and 43. Those were also such shocks. I want to be better about enjoying the present—and not regretting that I didn’t when I’m older.

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  14. Well, I know from your comments on my blog that we share similar sadness, both having lost a friend recently. I’m sorry I missed this post and I’m so sorry for your loss. It sounds like this was sudden and unexpected which has its own trauma, and it’s own kind of grief. You are so right about how a loss like this reminds us of what is truly important. It really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? For me, it also reminds me to do now the things I want to do: spend quality time with friends and family, write both fiction and non-fiction, and stay fit. Take care of yourself.

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    • I’m afraid this was completely unexpected, which made it so difficult for everyone. And then after I wrote this post, one of my good friends called to say she would be having surgery for melanoma. As you can imagine, July has not been the best month for me.

      My husband and I are trying to be better about enjoying the present and not putting some things off until later. We’ve been good about diet and exercise, so those walking tours we want to do are more than feasible. We’re planning the first one for sometime next fall, and that should be fun. You take care of yourself, too, and I hope you’re finding some time for that writing.

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