A letter to a friend

Dear Carter,
I suspect you know all of this already.  You probably know a lot of things I don’t, but I wanted to take a moment to write you anyway.  I’ll tell you straight away, I’ve missed you.  When you took ill a few months ago we all assumed that you’d bounce right.  You were always amazing with your energy and tenacity despite your age.

But you didn’t get better.  You got worse.  And on Thursday, you died.

It was weird enough when you were out sick.  Other people from your department filled in for you.  They did a great job, but it was odd not seeing you.  There was this odd Carter-shaped void in the fabric of my life at work.  But I asked after you, we all sent you cards, and there was that tiny and dangerous thing we all carried: Hope.

You’re not coming back.  And I finally cried just now.

Carter, you were one of those few rare truly good people.  There are too few of you in the world.  Irascible, funny, utterly competent, and unflappable.  You brooked no grief from any of us or from the general public, but you were kind and I always knew you had a comment or observation for me and that on my way out late at night you’d be there to wave goodbye.

I guess this is me getting my chance to wave goodbye to you.  I’m still having trouble imagining work without you.  We worked together for 10 years.  Different departments, different times, but you were a constant.  Now that constant is gone and we’re all the poorer for it.

I can’t go to your service tomorrow and that makes me terribly sad.  In the tradition of the overemployed and underpaid everywhere, I have to work tomorrow.  True, it’s a jewelry show and I could theoretically just not show up, but Geoff and I need the money.  The irony of missing the service for a man who referred to his job as “something to do after his second retirement” because I have to work is not lost on me.  I’m also fairly sure you’d tell us all to leave off with the maudlin mourning and get back to work.  Such was your work ethic.

So, maybe there is something I know that you didn’t.  I know how many lives you touched, including mine.  I know how many people, just here at work, miss you terribly.  I hope that you can see it too and know that you were, and are, loved.

Rest well, Carter.  Till we meet again.


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