Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Effect of Jim

I've had a vague awareness, throughout my recent house decision-making process, that the attendant stress was entirely of my own making. Nobody held a gun to my head and demanded that I self-torture over housing. In fact, I was never even unhappy with my current living situation. Change was not necessary; the thought of it, though, was entertainment, and distraction for sure- distraction from real life, I'm afraid.

Sadly, I was given a whole new perspective today which rendered my house decision "suffering" irrelevant. A co-worker, a cherished buddy (as much as a married man can be to a single whirling dervish) died of cancer last night. I am one of many people trying to imagine the workplace minus the major presence of Jim, who loved his career so much that he continued to function brilliantly at work even as the cancer ravaged his body practically beyond recognition.

Of course my mind automatically dredged up the highlights of my memories of Jim, of our many frank discussions of work matters, clowning around to keep things light, and because he was the only one who could talk me into it, socializing after work.

I keep replaying the last conversation I had with him, just 2 weeks ago. I received his message, reluctantly.

The exchange took place at work. Sick as he was, he still managed to keep showing up and doing his job, while others took days off for sore throats and hangnails. I knew he was worried about what would happen to his wife and children, but I didn't want to directly address the topic of his death. I didn't know that he was going to die. And if the thought did cross my mind, I sure as heck didn't want to let on, lest his hope be dashed. Yet I wanted to somehow reassure him.

Without planning this, I found myself telling him about Charles, the widower of another co-worker of ours who died of cancer 2 years ago. I have stayed in touch with him by telephone at least once a week since his wife died. I told Jim this, and added that I was planning to take Charles, even though his health was failing, to a concert the next week.

Jim's eyes widened and locked with mine. "It's REALLY good that you're doing that, Betty....... It's REALLY GOOD."

I can still see the look on his face. I think he had received my message, too.


Priyamvada_K said...

Dear Betty,
Very sorry to read about your friend's loss. Must be hard on the family too.

And its so nice of you to reach out to Charles.


Shankari said...

So good you could provide that reassurance, Betty.

And sorry to hear of this loss.

Betty said...

Dear Priya,

Charles adds to my life too. The weekly contact has become an important part of my life, and I'm glad he is willing to participate in the regular ritual.

I hope you are constantly healing from your loss.


Betty said...

Dear Shankari,

I do hope he was reassured a bit. I suspect that others offered the same in different ways, and hopefully he was at peace about his family's future before he died.


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