I have a strict "one tragedy per summer" rule. So after this terrible accident, according to the rule, we were done. But apparently someone didn't get the memo. I found out yesterday that a colleague and friend died of a heart attack. He just turned 50. And I'm absolutely devastated. Everyone who worked with him is devastated.
I took the day off yesterday and while I was at Eddie Z's with my husband considering window treatments, my boss called on my cell. Not an entirely unusual event. But his tone was not good and he asked me if I was in a "quiet, relatively stable" place (whatever that means). Seeing as the Eddie Z's wasn't too crowded and was in fact quiet and on relatively stable ground, I said "Yes. What's up?" I thought maybe someone important had gotten fired or quit. Juicy gossip kind of stuff or get ready to work even harder, you know? I really, really wasn't prepared for this news.
This colleague and I went way back to when I was a baby lawyer (lots and lots of years ago). He was a senior associate at the same law firm and got me started in mutual fund law. He was, in many ways, my mentor and my career followed in his footsteps. We worked together at the firm for a couple of years before he left for a corporate position. A couple years after that, I also left for a corporate position. About a year ago, he came to work with us. We were so happy to get him. He's a like a rock star among chief compliance officers. (Seriously. We have rock stars. Just without the unusual hair, bizarre clothes and dubious musical talent.) He was the best. And I was really happy to be working with him again. He was smart, funny, personable - just a pleasure to work with. I learned a lot from him over the years and was looking forward to learning lots more. Of all the lawyers in our group, he's the only one who is simply not replaceable. I feel sorry for the person who fills that spot - they have supersized shoes to fill.
So now he's gone and I keep picturing him sitting in the chair across my desk. He was just there on Friday and for the life of me I can't remember what we talked about. I don't know why that bothers me so much but every time I think about it, I start to cry. Why can't I remember that conversation?
I just can't get excited about the work projects I need to get done (not even the bonfires that are erupting all around me). There are things we were working on together and I just don't know what to do or how to pick up the pieces. I can't even begin to imagine what his significant other is feeling. It seems silly for me to be fretting over how we're going to get the work done without him. How is his partner going to go on without him?
The irony of this whole thing is that his partner was hospitalized recently when he almost died of dehydration (and I'm not exaggerating) brought on by a severe intestinal illness. After that scare, my colleague was saying how glad he was that his partner had all sorts of tests at the hospital and was given a clean bill of health. How utterly tragic that my colleague then goes and dies of a heart attack just weeks later. I mean, that just sucks.
Sorry this blog is so damn depressing these days. Pretty soon I'll be able to stop crying at my desk and write something more upbeat. Just not yet.