Today I found out that a co-worker of mine, a very young guy with young kids, has died. He had cancer, of course. I am devastated. I didn’t even know him that well, but I am devastated. I’m going to deviate from my “no-work-talk” policy for a sec because this isn’t about work, really. He was just an exceptional soul that I happened to meet when I was at work.
I didn’t really know him very well until this Spring. I knew he’d had some health setbacks in recent years but what was amazing about him is that he just seemed to always have such an incredible attitude. Nothing in his demeanor ever suggested that he was willing to give up. And that is what I remember most about him. He and I did a video shoot together this Spring in preparation for some online learning modules that I was preparing for our sales team. He had a great sense of humor and every time he screwed up he would laugh and use some of his self-deprecating humor to explain away his blunder. He enjoyed the irony of him talking about one of our “green” products while a garbage truck went by outside the window. He did not behave like a man that was dying, rather a man that was living. Enjoying. Maybe even enjoying every second. Of course, I don’t believe for a second that he didn’t believe he had hope to survive. Even though he had a crushing setback the previous January, he just kept going as if life would go on.
That was the last time I saw him. I heard only a couple of weeks later that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence because his disease was ravaging him. And now, today, the news of his death has caused me great pause. I did not anticipate the impact that he’d had on me until I heard the news of his passing. I cried uncontrollably for a solid ten minutes. I asked God, the universe, whoever is out there – WHY? Why the hell would you take this guy? This person who had so much life left in him. So much promise. A young wife. Little kids. This guy was only a few years older than me. Why him?
When an old person dies it makes sense. It’s easy to accept as a natural transition to the other side. Maybe even an adventure. When a young person dies, it’s just wrong. I’m tired of seeing it. I cannot understand why a person like him has to go. And I don’t want to hear anyone telling me that “it was his time.” That is total bullshit. It’s not your time when you’re 43 years old.
The only thing I will say is that I learned something from him. Something really profound. I learned to capture and enjoy the moment. I learned that sometimes the little stuff just isn’t worth getting all wound up about. I learned to remember that laughter is indeed the best medicine. Work hard but smell the flowers and laugh at the garbage truck because it really is funny. And never, ever take a moment on this Earth for granted.
RIP, friend. Thank you for having an impact on my life. You probably never even knew it.