Saturday, April 10, 2010

When you don't get to say goodbye

I think everyone knows those times - when you suddenly discover you probably won't see someone again and you wish you had said more to them, had taken a bit more extra time with them, or perhaps just treasured each time you saw them, because you never knew which time would be the last.

A person I knew - not well, but we knew each other throughout the years as I transitioned from programmer to program developer (or whatever what I do now is called), and she transitioned up the ladder as a nurse. My MS changed and she had a son born with Cerebral Palsy. She is an advocate for worthwhile causes, and has this way - when she says something, people listen. Action happens. We started to collaborate on disability and healthcare. And then, all of a sudden she left. The last time I saw her was when I presented on disability at her kids' school. I thought it was neat - we hugged goodbye because of the context of everything. And oddly, that was, in a sense, a final goodbye hug. Unexpected.

My friend Steve had lymphoma and we had known for some time. He had a stem cell transplant. He and I talked about it at length in his office. I thought it was a cure but he told me it only bought him time. I started to use a walker and he brought me one of those bike attachments that looks like a trumpet. You squeeze part of it and it beeps. That's how, we joked, people would get out of my way. A gift like that from some people might have been at the very least, annoying. But from Steve, it was funny, and we joked. Then work got busy. His office door was closed more. I thought he was just busy. And then he was gone. The trumpet device never got attached to the walker, but it sits on my desk at work as a reminder of Steve. I wish I would have spent more time when we were both busy.

So work can do that - everyone is so busy, something happens, and everyone is left with jaws dropped. And perhaps one day I will learn to take more time and be less busy. But, I will be grateful for these 2 people. They both had passion for what they did. And we did spend time together - there's just never enough. They taught me so much, and we shared so much.

And how often do we really get to say goodbye, or at least a very heartfelt, "see you later." Not often enough.

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