Thursday, December 31, 2009
Posted by Not a soccer mom at 12/31/2009
I lost a great friend over the holidays. We had lost touch in the past year as he was having a rough go and not answering any phone calls or messages.
We were lucky. We worked together for nearly 14 years at a great company. It was one of those companies where the workers love getting up in the mornings. Where everyone said hello in the halls, we all knew about each others' families and cared about them. It was a very close knit company. You would think it was a small company- with maybe 20 or so employees to be so close? There were over 700 employees.
When the company owner was just getting too far along in his years to keep a business running, he sold the company to a much larger corporation. He was diligent in his search for just the right company to take his employees under his wing as he had. Things didn’t work out quite as he thought they would and not even a year after his passing, the company was closed and the manufacturing moved over seas. This was hard on a lot of us. Not just the lay-offs and finding new employment, but also losing a part of the ‘family’ we had become. Most of us still work in this same geographical area and most still in the industry. We try to stay in touch with as many as we can.
When the plant closed, it was hard on my friend Mike. He had just suffered through a tough divorce and was struggling with what comes with that. While suffering through the loss of time with his kids, starting over in a new house, new friends, and his new life, He seemed so sad.
Mike started with another company and all seemed a little better, he was dating and met some nice women. Then one day he didn’t show up for work. They called to see if he was alright.
Mike said ‘I would come in to work, but I don’t know where that is?’ They rushed to his house and he just didn’t seem right. They took him to emergency where it was diagnosed that he had fluid on the brain and was immediately taken in for surgery, brain Surgery. After the surgery, I saw Mike, on rare occasions when the old coworker gang met for drinks; he never seemed like the old Mike. He was visibly unhappy. We spoke of our divorces, our kids, and happier times. But something was behind his smile.
Soon after his surgery, that company also had cut-backs. I tried to get a hold of Mike. No one seemed to know where he was working. I did not know his ex wife well enough to ask. I called, he would not answer, I left messages – he would not return them. I was not alone. Many friends attempted to contact him, with the same result. I had not spoken with him since January of this year.
And then, I received a link from a friend to his obituary. He passed away on Christmas Eve, alone. He was 50 years old. I attended the funeral yesterday. It was hard. The obit did not give a cause of death. And the many speeches alluded to suicide.More than one speaker mentioned that in the past year Mike had asked, what makes you happy? What defines happiness? My wish is that none of us ever have to ask that question.
Although there were approximately 20 friends from the company there, and it was great to see them it was not the circumstances I wished I were seeing them under.
Mike was a family man, his kids and wife meant everything to him. The divorce shook up his whole world. I know that some of us handle tragedy differently than others but I can’t imagine the pain he must have felt. Oh the loneliness. I had a bout of depression after my own divorce; it lasted a couple months, and was the worst feeling of loneliness I have ever felt. I cannot change things, and my life goes on. But I will never forget Mike as long as I live. He left this world, and his children much too early. May peace come to them in their own lives’. I know he would want that.
I love you Mike, and I miss you already- Rest in peace
The end of the year is a time for reflecting on the past year, and looking forward to the new year. My reflection changed in an instant this year. I was contemplating posting about all the challenges I have faced this year and how I couldn't wait for the new one to start.
That is still true. I wish Mike were here to enjoy it with me.
Happy New year to you all. Make it the best it can be.
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