Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Worst Kind of Call

Kind of a weird week.

One of my coworkers died, very unexpectedly, Monday night. When my phone went off at midnight, I couldn't swim up out of sleep fast enough to answer it. To get a call after 10:30, though, has always meant the worst for my whole life, so I knew it wasn't a good thing.

Bleary-eyed, I stared for what felt like an hour at the local-area-code number. Normally I know my boss's phone number, but I wasn't even awake enough to grasp that.

Voicemail ping.

I blinked.  

It's midnight.

I also had three text messages, all sent within minutes of each other, by a coworker.

I ended up tip-toeing into the bathroom to listen to the voicemail (I keep my phone on vibrate, so it wasn't loud enough to wake Jason, too). I sat in there, staring at the text messages, blinking stupidly as I tried to process what it meant.

How strange and surreal the next day was.

There was a sense of constant motion and also a sense of sitting very still; of phone calls that needed to be made, endless phone calls. Emails, emails, emails. People in and out asking for details, asking about it, confirming rumors they'd heard from this person or that one. Running up to the site he worked at, to the post office, here and there... and at the same time business as usual proceeding, along this sort of surreal order. Answer phones. People come in to meet with my boss at their scheduled times. Greet those who pop in to ask about it. Dust something. Rinse. Repeat.

Discover that the monthly event at the site my coworker ran, which we are canceling out of respect, was published in the local newspaper that morning before we were able to get the notice out. To-do lists and phone calls.

Discover today that a different local newspaper also published the event. That'll mean more phone calls.

Today was similar to yesterday, although a bit less hectic; more phone calls, fewer people actually stopping by.

Tomorrow is the visitation and the service.

I hadn't actually seen him too often lately; while he's a coworker, he works at a different site than I do, so except for when he needed to drop something off we didn't really get to talk that often and lately he'd been pretty busy, or I had been on vacation, or he'd been on vacation, or all those things together at once.

I keep thinking it was such a cheat, because he had Christmas vacation coming up and he'd been counting the hours down to it. He was close to retirement, he was counting days. Such a cheat, to him and to his family. Such a loss and it just feels like I should be able to write in some kind of complaint about this, to say, give him a year with his family, damn it. He'd more than earned some time, he'd more than earned his retirement.

So, yeah.

Kind of a weird week, and a sad one.


  1. God dang, I'm really, really sorry for your hardship and loss, and of course, for his family's. I know how deeply a death shakes you -- an unexpected death even more. I've gotten that call, and I totally get it. I hope peace is on its way to you and to everyone close to your coworker.

    1. It's been... bizarre, too. We only really saw him every other week or so (he worked at a different site), and then the visitation/funeral were closed-casket, so it's like... it hasn't sunk in, you know? It feels like he's just... right off-screen, waiting to come back on.


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