H

I will start by saying this is a pretty intense post. In some ways it doesn’t feel fair to share this. But at the same time I need to get it out.

I am half owner of a company and we have 45 or so employees. We are big enough to have lots of personalities but small enough to be tight-knit. Most of my employees are in their 20’s and have inspirations outside of our walls; but are happy to be there and engaged and have fun. (Most of my employees are delivery drivers.) I take a lot of pride that our turnover is low and retention is excellent. So with that being said.

We got a call last week on Monday from someone in anguish. It was the mother of one of my 25-year-old drivers. She tells us through tears and indescribable sounds that her son was dead. That he had taken his life on Sunday. There is no preparing for a phone call like this nor an understanding of how many layers of emotions will continue to present themselves. I can say my manager who took the call was gentle and kind with her and you could tell he was in shock. (I hesitantly listened to the call)

My first thoughts were what could I have done, what signs did I miss?  Then I got a bit into mom mode, what could I do for my employees to help them sift through their emotions and disparity?  That mode helped me because it gave me a purpose in a very unknown and foreign time. Resources were quickly found and shared with the group. Then it came time to try to find out the memorial information. There was no found information online for the next 24 hours, so I called his mom and left her a message. Could she or someone please call  so we could pay our respects and show  support for her and her son who worked for us for almost 2 years.

She did not call me back. My managers did call me though. They are all men in their 20’s and emotions were present that were not normally there. I tried to comfort, to assure, to say the right things in an impossible situation.

On Thursday one of my managers found the memorial information online. It was to take place Saturday in a town just over 2 hours away in the North Georgia mountains. I knew instantly that I had to go. I let my staff know anyone who was interested could travel along with me. I had 2 brave takers.

Saturday the weather  was menacing and scary. We talked about all kinds of topics on the drive up and shared many laughs and memories. Even coming to the conclusion that if H were to decide the weather on his funeral that this would be it. As we got closer to our destination, it got quiet. My stomach hurt. I was thinking from my own perspective as his boss, from a mom’s perspective of losing a son, and his 11th grade sister’s perspective from losing her brother.

We got there before the family did. In the lobby it immediately stung. There was a video playing that had pictures of him grinning ear to ear, covered in sun and his mama loving all over him in his Croatian birth land. How could I not instantly think of Seven and it just made the pain so much more intense. Tears were heavy and hot but I managed to keep it together and quiet. Immediately when his mom arrived I knew it was her. I watched as she went into to share words with H at his closed coffin. It was one of the most excruciating things I have ever seen.

After a few minutes, the three of us walked into pay our respects to both H and his mom. We waited patiently and took in the pictures of him displayed in all of his gorgeousness and youth. His mom turned to me, “I’m Jen, I was his boss”. She starts to cry and apologize for not calling me back. I tell her of course it is no problem and decide to stop talking and just wrap my arms around her as tight as I could. She responds the same way. There was a beautiful conversation there with no words.

The next part I so contemplate even writing about. But I have to. She whispers to me that his head is not in the casket. That she could not see him, “they” would not let her. She did get to touch his arm to say goodbye. I don’t really know how I held myself or my shit together at that point but I did. She told me he was troubled but had such a big heart. I nodded. The two who came with me, stepped in and wrapped their arms around her and there were lots of loud tears shared at that point. It seemed to last several minutes. But when we let go, no one was crying and we all took a deep breath and really looked at each other. I thought then like I do now, was healing really taking place? That soon, in that place? My thoughts are yes. Even if it was in a teeny, tiny way.

Shortly after, we left for the long ride home. We stopped at a random hole in the wall for one stiff drink. To toast H, to say thank you to each other for making the trip together and to reflect on the little miracle that there was an ounce of lightness before we left.

What’s almost absurd is that after that ordeal, I had to drive back to the city, drop them off and go get ready to go to a wedding. Talk about full circle in one day. I was grateful for the obligation in some ways. Not because I wanted to pretend it all didn’t happen. But for the reminder that in the bad and the horrible there is the good. Did I kiss Tyler more that night? Did I hug Seven more and take in all of his smells and breath? Did I talk openly with strangers at the wedding and because of that share unexpected belly laughs? Yes I did.

I’m still processing. I am still thinking. My heart still hurts. But in something that was incredibly dark and painful; I’ve managed to hone in on all the love and the little things floating around me that are a part of my life every single day. In a lot of ways I have H to thank for that and I hope he can feel that. I have to believe that he can.

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4 Responses to “H”

  1. Kat Says:

    He can feel it.
    His Mum can feel it.
    Your colleagues can feel it.
    And Tyler and Seven know it implicitly.
    You are that little light, the beauty in the darkness, the strength in the sorrow.
    You draw out the best in all who gravitate to your energy and joy, and you radiate it back out to the world, a thousandfold.
    Jen. You are love.

  2. questionsandanchors Says:

    How absolutely heart-wrenching. I’m so glad you went and were able to comfort his family if only for a moment. My thoughts and prayers are with you, your company, H and all of his family.

  3. rawqueen Says:

    I am crying with you. I am so sorry for the loss of this special “H”. In that fleeting moment between the living and the no longer here, we can only hope that they know how much they leave with us when they go…
    Big hugs to you and yours. More life, more love, more laughter…

  4. mamie Says:

    😦 i am so sorry for your loss. after a month in which i felt touched by death despite knowing it was coming, of seeing it from a mama heart place now, i can feel this with you, felt it in all these words. you are so strong and will always be changed by him, but i am glad that in the loss you could see through to the light. love you, my friend. a

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