I’m coming out of a fog into a haze of snow. I’m psychologically and emotionally spent, and I’m merely adjacent to the turmoil around me. That’s not 100 percent true — I knew her, too — not deeply, but enough to be disturbed by the news, let alone the aftermath of the little bit that has fallen to me to deal with. Four days ago, my boss’s wife died unexpectedly. The door on her life is closed.
She “worked” at my job, but more often than not, that meant making phone calls to organize things for her family — that was her real job. She was a talker, super social, the opposite of me, to say the least. She helped me get this job — after being interviewed by the man I’d be working for, I met with her. We didn’t talk much about the position, though. We talked about where we were from, her daughters — a normal conversation between two women not far apart in age. Of course, she talked more than me then. Now, though, I’ve had to be as talkative as she was, for three days, as I handled calls in and out, bracing shocked receivers for devastating news and consoling them when they, too, couldn’t speak (as I couldn’t when I first heard). Today, finally, the phone is silent. And I’m exhausted.
Our chats (mostly her talking, me listening) continued through the time we knew each other (less than a year). Every now and then, after other support staff was gone, and if he wasn’t around, she’d sit in the area near my desk and talk. I mostly listened because we weren’t really friends (but we liked each other), plus the line between employee/employer (and his wife) to me is not to be crossed personally except only by a little.
Like all people, she had her flaws, but her down-to-earth call-it-like-she-sees-it way was endearing. Of course, I’m biased — she found me and my silly little jokes/sense of humor amusing. We were similar in that we both are pragmatic. She told a tale recently about how Thanksgiving was to be at a relative’s house, but that relative downsized to a smaller location. That relative then decided they didn’t want to host the holiday because the new house was too small. “We’re going to eat turkey,” she said, “We’re not moving in.”
The past few chats were longer — she vented whatever was on her mind (people tell me I should be a therapist… considering how many people end up telling me so many things I don’t want to know, perhaps I should consider getting paid for it).
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with all of the thoughts she shared now. Nothing, I guess. They’ll be like the snow that’s currently falling — fleeting, melting away once it hits the air close to the ground.
She leaves behind teenagers whose worlds are forever altered. He is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, but I’m not surprised. She was one of those people who had acquaintances everywhere — at church, at the grocery store, at the salon. She had big hair and big jewelry and a big personality to match. I’m sure her house is extremely quiet with an enormous void where her energy used to be.
This is the beyond nondescript door of the office she used. He can’t go in there, so I’ve had to do so to find this or that. And I did. And I will. Seeing the white flowers on the edge of her desk and her calendar filled with notes in her inch-high flowing handwriting doesn’t upset me. It makes me smile — it’s her in a nutshell. And that’s what I’ll remember.