How unexpectedly Death can knock on one’s door and steal away a loved one, a friend, a co-worker.
One minute you can be talking and laughing and joking and making fun of what’s right and not right in the world…and suddenly you’re not right in the world. You’re gone. You’ve fallen over at your desk, fifteen minutes passed out before someone finds you and hurries to breathe into your mouth, breathe once, breathe again, please breathe, please don’t die, please move, please laugh again…
As some of you know from my Facebook status–or calls, or email on that sad yesterday afternoon–Barry’s 47-year-old co-worker and friend at the Sentinel, Cathy, died somewhere between 2 and 3 p.m. from massive cardiac arrest at her desk.
Barry and she had laughed together yesterday morning, and planned and plotted, and shared as co-workers often do all during the beautiful bright February morning here in the Upper Peninsula.
She and Barry were friends, even though they never saw one another outside the work environment. Many nights and mornings before work he would share “Cathy stories”, stories about his comrade at the paper, stories about their friendship over newspaper software, over the ups & downs of sharing a job together for many years.
She seemed healthy yesterday morning. She seemed like she would live forever, at least until old age knocked on her door and took her away, long after retirement from the newspaper, at a more appropriate time perhaps, if death ever rings at an appropriate time.
Barry asked her, “Will you be coming in tomorrow?” and Cathy thought for a few minutes before replying, “No, I don’t think I’ll be coming in tomorrow. No, I won’t.”
Barry left the office around noon and he would never see Cathy’s smiling face again. Mid-afternoon I got the sad call from another co-worker who had just performed CPR and I drove numbly into town to sit at Barry’s desk and to be present for the mourning staff.
My husband didn’t return home until after 7 p.m. and I walked with heavy legs and heart toward the bright headlights of his car with the sad, sad news. Oh, the devastating tragic news of unexpected death.
His face fell so sorrowfully as he listened. Then, sadly, slowly, he walked inside to telephone a half-dozen co-workers and lament, lament, that this had happened to his friend on a February afternoon between de-fragmenting her computer and typing press releases. Earlier in the morning her computer screen lit up with the “blue screen of death”. Little did they know that death had additional plans…
Barry is writing a column about Cathy for next week’s paper this morning. He’ll find words to help the community honor and grieve for this special woman. Perhaps he’ll find some measure of comfort as he remembers and shares.
As a friend, Sandi White, just posted beneath my Facebook status: Sudden departures shock a person’s sensibilities and seem to upend our notions of “what ought to be”. We pause and consider those around us, the fragility of life, how easily the cord can be broken. I lost a friend recently and so can understand. This is the time to let those you love know just how much they mean to you, never wait to say “I love you”. They or you may not get another chance. I love you, Kathy Drue.
May we not take one another for granted. We don’t know how soon before Death asks for the last dance.