Saying Goodbye

Unlocking the door while juggling my laptop and thermos, I wrestled the keys out of the lock and entered our dimly lit office. The morning sun crept through the blinds giving the room a warm, tranquil feeling. Spring was in full bloom which normally would fill the day's labor with an energy that could mitigate any stress from our work. Soon my co-workers would arrive, but today I knew that one chair would be empty. Karen, my friend and assistant of twenty years, passed away at the end of the previous week. Even the beauty of spring could not wield its magic against my aching grief.

So began the torturous process of dealing with her absence. Besides being the best man at Tim and Karen's wedding, Karen and I worked so closely together over these last twenty years that she truly felt like the sister I never had. The challenges we faced together created a deep camaraderie. Now I had to face the loss of a key staff member without the help of the very person who normally I would rely on in a situation like this. Tackling it would be made worse by having to sort though the notes and work of my friend, each page and file reminding me of her absence. After a while, it seemed like the grief would never end.

It's very hard, however, to resist the beauty of spring. Each blossom, bird, and fragrance subverts the gloom that seeks to rule over me. Its magic has power after all. And more magic yet seduces me; the laughter of my friends, the innocent joys of my children, and the love of my wife. Each compels me to conclude that there is too much good to wallow in sorrow.

Raking over Karen's emails, notebooks, and files I'm reminded of my loss. But, unexpectedly, I also remember a myriad of wonderful things about her: that incredible smile, her tenacious faith, the attention to detail, and her warm spirit. I realize that the loss of the good should never overshadow the good that was. Life moves on and things change. Each season gives way to another. We shouldn't curse this inevitability and stubbornly cry about what is lost. Children grow up, leaves change colors, and people die. The wonder of what was should never be crushed by the change that will and must come.

So goodbye my dear friend. You made a difference.