I was working from home when an old work colleague called me.
She told me that a mutual friend of ours, our old work friend, had died.
She cried, and I said ‘Oh my God,’ repeatedly.
It wasn’t that much of a shock. In terms of, we knew she had been battling a serious illness for years now.
But she had been winning. She had been beating it, time and time again, and I really felt like her bubbly personality and upbeat attitude would actually kick its arse.
I really did. I thought she had.
I read her posts on facebook, and I also followed her journey, taking in eagerly her updates that she was getting better, she was part of the small percentage that was still alive since her original diagnosis, watching her face on the screen of my mobile, all happy and positive, the way I used to see her when we worked together.
Back in the party shop days, when we were both in uni. We’d usually work the same Friday night shift, 4pm-8pm, and she’d fill me in on her weekend plans, the clubs she would frequent, the friends she would go out with. She was so bubbly. So positive. I don’t think I ever saw her mad. EVER. Even when a sad or sore topic crossed her lips, all it did was lower her voice, make her eyes go distant for only a moment…
But then she’d be back. That happy girl we all knew.
Today on the phone, my old work friend cried. I just stared at my computer screen, my mind blank with shock. I told her I’d call her back to have a good chat… I was at work, and had to process it all. She urged me to check out the facebook page that confirmed the sad news.
We hung up, and I knew I shouldn’t have… not just because I was at work, but because my mind was already becoming a jumbled mess.
But I did. I looked up the facebook page and burst into tears.
Why? Why her? How? She was 2 years younger than me. She was 34 when she died, months ago, and we’d only found out now. My heart sobbed. I felt sad all over. I thought of her again and again, her fight, her courage, her strength…
I struggled to think of memories. They were from so long ago, over a decade now. But slowly they came back, more and more.
Her long nails that she kept immaculate, strong and healthy despite all the balloons we tied and dust we encountered.
I remembered her 21st birthday. It was in a huge hall and she had hundreds of people there. She was dating a guy she was rapt about at the time, but he ended up to be a bit of a douche. I have to say, I wasn’t surprised about him when she later told us.
But I was beyond floored to hear the news of her death today.
Why? How? How did this happen? She had a loving family. A wide circle of friends.
She was going places. She loved her job. She was motivated. Dedicated. hard-working. Fun and cheeky and hilarious.
How did this happen?
This afternoon, my thoughts went into a deep, dark place. I cried over my keyboard, and then Hubbie came home for lunch and I cried some more.
He just nodded. He understood.
I told him I was scared. “What’s the point of life… we’re all leading towards death, or heading towards watching all our loved ones die. I’m scared to love anyone.”
I struggled with these thoughts. To and fro I went, battling, thinking of her, thinking how life was scary, life was unfair… life didn’t ask you. Things happened.
Things just happened.
Nothing mattered anymore. All this coronavirus crap… seriously who cared?
We were alive! We were breathing. Hell even if I felt pain somewhere, it meant I was alive.
I was feeling. Breathing.
A few little things made me realise what was important in the second part of the day. I finished work, and instead of rushing off to do home-schooling, and start the whole routine of getting jobs done, I sat with baby girl. Watched her draw with some colouring pens she’d re-discovered.
We had our coffee break on the balcony.
I used my eyes to look at the water.
My hands to wave at the passing neighbour.
I smelt the coffee with my nose.
I felt the sunshine on my face.
I heard the wind breathing as it wrapped the warmth of Spring around us.
I was alive.
We took a walk around the block. I needed it. We looked at houses. We counted street signs. We laughed. Touched leaves. Ran.
At home, I read, on whim. I’ve been holding back, trying to not read as much in order to motivate myself to catch up on my Book Reviews for my blog… but it’s made my soul sad. My soul wants to read. I want to read.
So I read a chapter just before dinner.
Yes, if you looked at it deeply, darkly… we were all leading to inevitable death. Ours, or everyone around us.
And we didn’t know what would come first.
Bleak, yes. Not very glass half-full at all.
But we had this life to live… and to love, was to live. We had to spend our time on this earth making the most of it, enjoying the little moments, using our senses, experiencing them, and being grateful that we were granted time on this earth at all.
Doing what we wanted. What made us feel good, in our core. I realised I had really followed my heart today, because the news of our work friend passing was so upsetting, I had to do something to make myself feel better…
I am still so profoundly sad. I think of her and I feel like crying all over again. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe she’s not here anymore.
Despite everything, I spent my time doing something for me today. Something to make me smile through my sadness. Something to make me happy through my tears.
And it was made all the more meaningful tonight. Baby girl kept asking for kiss after kiss after hug after hug from us, as she lay in bed tonight. It became a joke to her, saying “one more,” every time we moved back.
I realised it some weeks ago while out with friends. In conversation I went “oh yeah, my work friend so and so…”
And it was here that it occurred to me what I’d said.
‘Work’ – present tense… ‘Friend’ – present tense.
Perhaps it feels like that because it’s still all so new.
Perhaps it feels like that because I haven’t actually moved on to another form of paid work yet.
Perhaps it feels like that, because they will always be my friends.
Either way, this time of year has had me thinking about the crew a whole lot.
Because I knew, one of them would have started Christmas shopping already.
One of them would have a couple of holidays/getaways planned for the Summer .
One was going to visit the parents and pot around the garden.
A couple were going to spend time with the kids and do a whole lot of beachside activities.
And even a few more were looking forward to an extended holiday break to sleep in and watch the cricket.
I knew this, because I know them so well.
But yet, I was still not content. It’s been 3 months now, so long between catch ups, between drinks, between coffee walks.
So I messaged them ALL.
Well let’s be serious, not allof them. I messaged those who I had a connection with. Those I missed the most. Those who when I said, “let’s catch up soon” back in September, I had meant it.
Because I only say it if I mean it.
So during baby girl’s swim lesson this afternoon I took out my phone and started sending out messages.
In the hours that followed everyone responded. I returned text after text as baby girl and I got home, as she showered, as I prepared dinner and then as I cleaned up… I was grinning from ear to ear and going “awwww!”
Hubbie was smiling at me, crouched over the kitchen island, saying “that’s good.”
It was good.
I went to shower, but then got another message, so sat on my bed to respond. And it was here that I looked outside and saw the view.
Such a beautiful sky, dotted with those rippled clouds.
How did the sky look to my work friends? How did it look to them all? We were certainly scattered all over the city, that there was no doubt of, from coastal towns to country regions, and every where in between…
Did they see the same colours? The same sky? Were the clouds peppered in their view as it was in mine?
I thought about this for a moment and how we were now, as I always said we would be… strewn all over the place, far from each other, and away from our former place of work.
But we were still bound. We still are. By the memories. ♥
How perfect that our send-off party for my old work (note the use of old, not current – I am well-adjusted and dealing with it) we have the next-level type of coffee drink to see us off…
Of course. It makes perfect sense. Patron liqueur, a combination of both coffee and tequila…
It was always going to be coffee related. Always. How can it not be when me and my work friends are involved? (note the use of work friends, present tense, not ex work friends… that’s because we’re forever friends 😉👊)
Yet I didn’t know it was going to be coffee related… until the shot was put in front of me.
And I thought “I really shouldn’t have this.”
But then I said “fuck it.”
No asterixes either.Just all foul mouthed.
And then it made perfect sense.
Coffee. Of course. It was the perfect send-off for me and my friends.
As I drove into work on the dreaded Monash this morning, the car slowed, painfully so… for the longest time.
There was an accident. I shook my head. I was going to be late.
As I walked into work the drizzle intensified, cascading down over my face. I couldn’t help my amused smile. Thanks for the lovely send off Docklands.
And then as I started up my computer, two programs weren’t working… I had to call IT.
All on my very last day of work.
It was finally HERE.
It was the weirdest sensation. I felt anxious and intensely nervous through most of the day. Things were emphasised to me at every turn… when I went up a lift “this will be my last time travelling to level 3.” When I scraped my bowl of its weetbix residue… “this will be my last dish from this kitchen.”
When I locked my locker for the last time.
When I logged off my computer for the last time.
Even going upstairs for a break with my colleagues got me over-sentimental. I in fact stopped going up for tea years ago, back when I started my morning coffee walks instead, and then there was the whole writing-at-the-desk-during-any-break thing…
I had to force myself to breathe. Pause. Reflect.
Many things made me feel better.
Firstly, this was not I, and I alone leaving. It was all of us. Our entire department and so many more. I was the second last of our team to leave, and so many had already walked my steps, felt my dis-ease, the discomfort and the bittersweet emotions at leaving.
It had happened to ALL my colleagues. My friends.
Secondly.… well change. It is inevitable. If this hadn’t happened now, we would have all been content in just going through the motions, the routine of work that we know like the back of our hand, becoming complacent in our roles and not expanding our mind and life journey with new learnings, adventures and places to see, people to meet.
There is so much to see. So many people to meet.
Memories flooded back to me as I looked around. The people I had seen come, and go. The places where secrets were shared. The darting looks and cheeky glances. The meltdowns. The showdowns. The ups, and downs.
Almost 12 years of my life.
I got my last coffee with a colleague… and today it was necessary to get dessert. Sure I had leftover cake from the weekend at home…
But it was my LAST DAY EVER. Screw that.
It was sublime.
As I sent off a billion emails to my personal email, going through folders and deleting files here, there and everywhere, the feeling of anxiety grew.
I was deleting, and removing any remnants of me, from my locker… my desk… my entire email account. 1000s upon 1000s made their way into the graphic rubbish can on screen.
And my anxiety grew.
I was forgetting something. I met with HR. Got my papers. Went through more emails. Checked my lists… again. Went through my empty locker… again.
I had done everything I had to… and yet there was the strongest urge that I had forgotten something.
And just like that, at the acknowledgment of my lost feeling, I realised.
I felt like I was forgetting something, because a piece of me was going to remain there, even after I walked out the doors.
You can’t just flick a switch. Walk out without turning back. Expect to not have a memory lingering. Some laughter floating through the halls.
You can’t do it. Not after so long. Not after having created some of the best memories with the best people you could ask for.
You couldn’t, just, forget.
With that in mind, knowing I was going to have to leave a piece of me behind…. I walked out.
And instead of the grey morning and drizzle I had walking in with, now there was sunshine.
There was a new adventure waiting for me.
And it’s a bit hard for me to believe now, so early… but I think it will be even better than this one.
And that’s because of my lucky number. Numbers. Because I have lots. And it’s not just 7.
At my work. I don’t even want to say anything too soon for fear of things getting dragged out further, but let’s just say my time at my current place of employment… well it won’t be so current anymore.
I am ready to move on.
A couple of months ago, perhaps not so much. I was feeling very bittersweet about the whole thing, wondering what I would do after it all (uh, write more?!) I was questioning my future, and was thinking about the people mostly, those I had made memories with for the past 11 and a half years.
But as the weeks have gone by, and many colleagues have already left, along with the fact that we are still here 4 months after we were meant to have left, a total of 18 months AFTER being told about our redundancy… well I am ready.
I really truly, think I… AM… READY.
There is barely nothing to do. We are hanging around at work waiting for problems to arise so we can fix them, before the official migration interstate happens. And as we wait, we… do what we like.
Today I was getting ready and sorting my things by going through emails. Not those work-related, tips on how to write a resume and grab the attentions of your preferred employer emails…
Rather the emails I’ve been sending and receiving for over a decade, between me and my work friends.
What a time warp. So many things have transpired and gone down and exploded and sailed, all with a lot of cat photos, food porn and plenty of coffee walks in between. 😉
So I have collated a few of those cheeky work emails for you to read and hopefully enjoy, even if you have no idea what or WHO they are about…
work emails that happened when we were supposed to be working,
when we were supposed to be not listening, and
when we were supposed to be not talking.
And before any potential work friends of mine meltdown when they see this… RELAX. I am only repeating on here MY WORDS. Only.
Still, they paint a little story. Read on. 🙂 (Photos included were actual photos included in original emails)
“I think I need to try all their pastries… just to makes sure they’re up to scratch, u know”
“He WAS chirpy today! OMG you’re killing me!”
R things progressing?
How the hell will I wait ’til thursday to find out?
Oh oh! I’m parked at remand, maybe u can move ur car when I leave 5:10???”
What would you say if I told you I brought you in a donutella? Would you like it now or after? ;)”
“OMG yes just in time for as this audio assault arrives beside me”
“Please don’t feel pressured… I understand.. if u wanna say something im totally here (!), but if u feel uncomfortable I get that too.
But I am here if u get the urge to say something. Hey u could also say something really vague and let me interpret. Lol
Joking joking. Or am I ?;)”
“No problems! Even if u wanna wait until the day to confirm, up to u 🙂 when it comes to coffee and catch ups I say yes very easily and quickly lol”
“I don’t watch the Voice but I saw bits of it on Sunday and everyone was raving about how amazing Ricky is, if I was on that show and he turned around for me, I would throw myself on him!”
“How’s your coffee today? Mine is really good!”
“I think I dreamt about u again! But u know when u feel like someone featured in ur dream but u cant remember any detail? Like that”
“Ok…. Well think of it as a cry out for help, where you can help a poor Mum who has had very very little sleep get some sense of normality back in her day with some caffeinated goodness.
And, if that fails, here is Ricky Martin: (this is not the same photo, but meh)
In not knowing who to post for you, I’ve just thought to go with who to post for ME, lol!”
“Let’s be honest, all you’ve been eating is herbs today, so you can totally have more sweets”
“By the way i’m nice and warm now after my big cap!”
(And I end with my favourite exchange…)
“I can’t remember what we used to call the greasy ogler, so I’ll just go with greaseball.
He walked past me this morning (past Xs desk) and I looked up with a normal smile because I SERIOUSLY DIDN’T KNOW HE WAS WALKING BY! And he did that flick of his head where it was as if he was gonna look away but then quickly turned back because he saw I smiled. I was so bloody disgusted and upset that I let him think I was FRIENDS with him.
Then he just walked by again, totally looking the whole time as if waiting for a smile. Because I’m actually sitting here doing work rather than ogling people in the office (like, honestly) I didn’t notice him ‘til the very end, but thank God I only looked up with a fairly serious look.
I notice only him on his own around lately, so I hope his horrible posse has dismembered.
A couple of weeks ago while walking back to work on a chilly but sunny morning, our takeaway coffees steaming in our hands, my work colleague observed something.
”I know we’re cold, but I can’t help but think of homeless people on cold mornings like this.”
The three of us paused. Here we were with warm drinks, willingly walking through the cold because we knew we’d be out of it soon… and back in our warm and safe work environments.
I’m thinking of that, and shelter again, more so because the last few days have been particularly hellish, with arctic winds and ferocious onslaughts of rain and hail.
Shelter. Only moments ago as I headed up to bed with tablet in hand, it started again… the howling winds. The downpour. You could hear how freezing it was, and it made me jump into bed even more eagerly.
I’m lucky. We’re lucky.
We have a roof over our head, we have shelter. And if you’re reading this, you probably do too. We have a place to shield us from these Wintry nights and provide us with a safe haven to close our eyes at night… we are trulyblessed.
And as for the homeless? I don’t know what to say. I think it’s horrible that people have to live like that, and it pains me to see people sleeping around cardboard and asking for money on the streets. How bad a turn did their life take to end up outside, with no roof over their head?
But this isn’t that kind of post. Rather if I can point out how lucky we, the majority are to have shelter, and how we should really appreciate the things we take for granted, then maybe we too can be more mindful and aware of the plight of those less fortunate… if not by our generosity towards them to keep going, then at least by an increased awareness, simply an acknowledgement that we are not all so blessed.
You would think with all my food reviews I would have explored the gastronomic ins and outs of the area in which I work, but alas, no.
That’s partly because, when I do get a break at work, be it a ‘stretch’ break, lunch break, or ‘we’re working too far ahead and are now bored’ break, I actually stay at my computer… and write.
It’s what I’ve been doing for over 11 years now. No I’m not a vampire. I love my sun. I just have my extra-curricular activities, and when I get time, ANY time… writing is what comes first.
Which is why trying out different lunch places has never been on top of my list.
But now, we’re approaching the end, aren’t we folks. Now I suspect, it’ll be the end of the month when we get the wrap-up signal. And as a little leading up to D-day celebration and reminiscing date, a couple work friends and I headed on down to check out a delicious place today.
My poached chicken was dee-licious. My meal was filling yet felt so healthy, and the sauces, oh yuuuummmmm….
It may be the end, but I don’t think it’s the end of that place, or that chicken, for me anyway. I must go back, and am already planning weekend work days where I can indulge in some more fantastic and clean flavours…
Sure I won’t be sitting at my desk and writing… but I’ll have plenty more time to catch up on that soon enough, right? 😉