Like a Ton of Bricks

Walking into work today, I ran into a co-worker I hadn’t seen in years. We greeted each other with respective, “You still work here?” glances. I noticed, however, her demeanor quickly turned to one of distress. She went on to tell me that a co-worker, a mutual acquaintance to us both, had passed away unexpectedly.

I didn’t know Tom Nott well. I knew of him and had been on conference calls with him in the past. At that time, I was managing a team of database administrators in one organization. Tom worked for a DBA team in another organization. Within the confines of our building, we ran in the same circles, but I wouldn’t say we were friends.

53 is too young to be called back home to God, and I find myself somewhat speechless as a result of the whole situation. So in remembrance of Tom, I would like to share the words of Peter Mayhew (no, not the guy who played Chewbacca in the Star Wars films), a mutual friend to Tom and myself who was part of Tom’s team way back when.

I lost a friend today. His name was Tom and he was 53. He was a good husband and father and a very smart man. Our cubes were next to each other for a few years back when I worked for Verizon.

Every Friday I would invite him to lunch, and every Friday he would politely decline. It was somewhat of an ongoing joke between us. It took about a year before he finally broke down and would occasionally join us, and even then it was only on rare occasions.

I’m fuzzy on the details but I’m pretty sure he was there when my little Peyton was born because our daughters shared the same birthday. It’s funny. There are things I do to this day in conference calls that I learned over the wall listening to him. I could still probably do a DB2 interview from hearing him correct the person he was talking to.

He was my office neighbor when Anissa had her first stroke and Peyton was diagnosed with leukemia. We weren’t very close at all, yet we would keep an eye on each other for a few years and stayed in touch after I left Verizon.

With all that said, friends, life is short. None of us are getting out of here alive. Hug those you love daily. Reach out to an old friend. Make a new one. Focus on the stuff that really matters.

Very well said, Peter.

Rest in Peace, Tom. May the Holy Spirit provide your family with guidance and comfort in this time of grief.

Life Is
Image via kundiman.tumblr.com

 

A Year Later

Time flies. Tonight is one of those nights where I’m reminded of how brief our time is here on Earth. And for those we’ve known and lost, it’s sad to think at how they were called home to Heaven too soon.

[REPOSTED FROM 01/23/13]

After running some errands and grabbing a bite for dinner with Lee, I was poised to sit down and tackle some personal project work and check off an item on my ever growing to-do list. I checked my phone and saw I had a missed call from several hours earlier. Familiar area code but not someone in my contacts list.

I checked the message. It was from a high school friend of mine named Bethany. Two grade levels behind me, I graduated with her brother Paul. Through the background noise and what I then came to realize was her voice burdened by angst, the message was about my classmate. Her brother, at the age of forty, had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.

Bethany’s call was out of courtesy. She didn’t want me to find out through Facebook. She wanted to tell me herself. Mind you, I haven’t seen either of them in over twenty years and, ironically, if not for Facebook, we’d most likely not have kept in touch at all. Yet through her pain and through her tears, she felt compelled to reach out to those with whom she knew her brother stayed in touch. A selfless act at a time when it’s completely allowed and understandable to be selfish.

My night was done. I was done. There was no getting anything productive done this evening.

At the news of his passing, I was instantly transported to the days when Paul and I would run six miles together for cross country practice, and he’d have me cracking up the whole way. Paul was larger than life, with a shit-eating grin and a natural wit and sense of humor most stand-up comedians would kill for. I can’t look back at the fun and great moments in high school without thinking of him. I’d usually get in trouble when we hung out, but it was always so much fun getting into trouble with Paul. He was one of the good guys. He was second to none. He was magnificently unique.

…and Paul will be missed terribly.

I ask you all keep Paul’s wife Dana and her two kids in your prayers. I also pray God send His Holy Spirit to the Ehrman family to provide strength and comfort in this time of tragic loss.

Tonight was a heartfelt reminder of how preciously short life truly is, about how we must embrace every moment, and how we must try to live so that we’re giving every moment back to God and His will for us here on Earth.

Rest in Peace, Paul. I know your smile it illuminating Heaven right now.

Paul Ehrman