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Do You Recall the First Time We Met? (In Memory of a Friend)

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On October 6, I opened my work e-mail to see that you had left us after a year of battling cancer. On October 12, I cried in front of strangers, co-workers, and your family a small puddle’s worth of tears, my shoulders shaking and my breathing irregular. Talking was nearly impossible because I couldn’t get more than a few words out without losing it. I heard many wonderful stories about your friends and family that day, all of them concluding the exact same thing: they were very happy and blessed to have met you in their lives.

I never got a chance to tell many people about how we met, but it doesn’t feel like a year since our paths crossed.

During my first week of my internship, my supervisor stuck her head into your cube, only to see that you were out for the day. She said she was pretty sure I’d meet you later in the week. True to her word, she ran into you in the hallway in the middle of the week and brought you over to my desk to say hi. My head was swirling that week as it was my first internship with a big company, multiple individuals working to make the department successful, and diving in without hesitation into the job.

Sometimes I’d run into you in the hallways grabbing tea or watering your plants or you would be eating lunch upstairs in the break room with one of the smaller teams supporting the larger department. Then there were the trips to the company discount store. I drove one time, incredibly nervous about being the one behind the wheel with a co-worker in the passenger seat as it was one of the few times I wasn’t in the reverse position, which I tended to prefer. You were patient and helped me find a quicker way to the store without spending too much time. That day, we stopped at the local grocery store and had lunch – you helped order since my Spanish was rusty before discovering some wonderful looking produce at a good price and buying it.

When I got caught up in the middle of a disagreement between two parties, you heard me out as I talked about both sides and wondered what to do. If you had been in my shoes, you said that you would have given them a piece of your mind if they decided to blame me for something so insignificant. However you said that I should simply assert my neutral position and be above the drama taking place. You were right – it all worked itself out in the end.

I can’t thank you enough for comforting me on one of the worst days of my life. I was holding down the fort while my supervisor was out and the other member was on vacation. Then I had gotten bad news about my mom breaking her arm and felt helpless as I was at work and my dad was working almost 2 hours away from home. I couldn’t stare at the screen for another minute, my heart pounded in my chest, and my breathing was shallow. I wanted to break away for a moment and try to clear my head. You asked me if I had ever seen the horses at the behind-the-scenes stable on property and walked with me over there. The trainers let us pet a few and showed us the others, plus the other animals in the facility. I walked away feeling better.

I miss you is an understatement. I pass by your desk and it feels strange to not see you there, surrounded by your plants, pictures of friends and family, and miscellaneous decorations. I treasure our chats about work advice, life, and various things like shopping for deals or cooking great meals with family. You always asked how my parents were doing and I appreciated that you asked.

John Green wrote a great quote in his best selling book The Fault in Our Stars, which I feel sums up our friendship in the year I had gotten to know you: “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities…I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I am grateful.”

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