At the moment I am numb again.
Secret disclosing time: I think about death a lot. I think it goes well with anxiety disorders.
Death is a secret obsessions of mine. How we die. What happens when we cease to be alive. Long ago I concluded that we simply continue on, call it heaven if you want, but science tells us that the electrical energy we contain never leaves the Universe it simple converts to another form. I find those thoughts comforting in times like these.
Tuesday, I lost a Great Aunt. She was nice. She was family. She'd lived a life full of love and passion for us children. She made great mexican dishes. I rarely saw her. I am very distant with my family. I was a bit sad. I cried a little, alone, away from prying eyes. My family is crazy. You could say mental health disorders run in the family, so I am a little bit crazy too. The post on Facebook are drama filled. The kind of drama that makes you want to reach through the screen and slap someone.
But I held it together.
Wednesday was the last day I saw him. He looked tired. He held the door for me and we exchanged the usual glance, and he said, "after you". I said, thanks in that awkward and obligatory fashion I normally do. The day ended and both our lives went on. I went to sleep, a bit worse for wear.
Thursday, running late, again. But hey, I've got ADHD and it's par for the course. I put my sunglasses on and started for work. I pulled on the sun visor as I hit the freeway heading east, only to have it snap and land in my lap. Frustrating, yes. I continued on with the morning sunrise blinding me as I sped to work.
Thursday was the day of my big interview for a special managerial internship. But I had a full 6 hours or more of work to do first. I worked at that feverish pace common to my line of work marketing management, where every client has a crisis needing to be solved immediately. I often joke in the office about how life and death is happening because of the ads we run. I've not heard him say "Morning" or "Afternoon" in that normal competition with Marco. He must have stayed home sick. Perhaps his cat, Bam of 16 years finally passed. I'll check on that after my interview.
I scurried to my car, asked Siri to get me directions to the other campus. A few of my other colleagues are waiting when I arrive, we chat as we all wait for the opportunity to interview for the internship.
Okay, my turn.
First question, "Why do you want to be a sales manager?"
"I don't want to be a sales manager." Gasps of confusion and horror fill the interview room as 6 confused c-level managers grapple with my answer. Lots of follow up questions for clarification go on about the room. It ends quite quickly after that.
I held myself together. I wished my fellow co-workers good luck. I walked to my car fully composed. I started the car, tried to pull the sun visor down as I prepared to leave my parking spot. It wasn't there. I lost my it and started sobbing. I can't breath. My chest tightens and overwhelming anxiety sets in about what my boss and boss's boss are going to think after recommending me for this internship. I am in the car. I am driving. I do mundane things, like get gas. Sob. I go return left over items from a fundraiser. I see a friend in this familiar parking lot. We share the same birthday, so we always talk. I hide in my car, afraid I will cry again if she asks me how my day is today.
I finish my errand and begin the long grueling commute home in rush hour traffic. I arrive home safe. My kids are with my ex for the night. I don't cry when I tell my roommate, my aunt about my bad interview.
I water the garden, some of that anxiety from the failed interview and what others will think of me creeps in. I get itchy everywhere very suddenly. I try not to scratch. I search the medicine cabinet for children's Benedryl and guzzle it down. I sleep.
It's Friday. I oversleep. Crap. I need to shower for work. I have plans tonight to drink and see a movie with old co-workers. I put on the silly red polkadot dress. The one everyone says reminds them of Minnie Mouse. I am in the car heading east at sunrise again. Damn it, the sun visor is still on the floor, broken. Aggravating. I arrive at work. I put on that smile that I use to hid the inner fear and loathing. I say the normal hellos, today with the overly confident and chipper voice.
Then Craig, a co-worker tells me.
I tell him he is mistaken. His cat was sick, not him. Besides Mike is only 34, we share the same birthday. He is my other birthday twin. We were cubical mates and he helped me cope with the stress of divorce and custody rights. He helped me ensure it was balanced so my kids would still have a Dad, because his son was so important to him. Mike is not dead.
I sit at my desk. I open my newsfeed. There it is, an announcement pinned to the work group stating clear as day, Mike has died suddenly in his sleep. I am certain I can deal with this. I try to work. Then I hear someone crying, sobbing. A few more join in. I am suddenly holding my breath trying to keep myself together. Then it happens. My own tears flow. It's happening all around me.
I'll gain my composure a few times today. I'll hear my boss's boss tell us we can deal with this how me need to, work if we need to, leave if we want. We are a family. I decide to work. I fail miserably at trying to work.
I was not Mike's best friend. He was not my best friend. He was a great friend. He was the guy you count on to hear your story. He was the guy who told you his. The guy that made you feel like you were significant. The one that would give you a hug if you were in need. Mike was the one who would give you anything, a few dollars, a drink, a meal, a moment of his time. He is so young. It doesn't make sense. How could a guy like Mike who gave so freely love and passion to all he met, just die? That last tired smile as he held the door that was the last moment. His Facebook wall is filled with condolences and fond memories of shared by everyone he loved. No crazy drama posts, like with my family.
I'll try to sleep. I'll say my prayers and hope I wake again. I'm grateful for the chance to have known you Mike. I wish I hadn't taken you for granted while you were among us.