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It's a Year of Firsts

Story ID:7917
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Story
Location:Caldwell ID USA
Year:2012
Person:Grief
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One of my senior managers lost her husband to cancer in the fall of 2011. I’ve never met
her, but she conducted the phone interview for my current job. I also attend several of her
conference calls each week. Her husband was not expected to live, but the doctors gave him
more time than he actually got. His quick passing was a surprise to his family. Even though they
knew it was coming, his death hurt.

I know!

I thought back to when my Georgia passed away in 2003. I knew it was coming. The
signs were there. The doctors confirmed. Her death was only a matter of time. I know the pain
my manager felt. We thought we were ready. We were wrong.

I sent my manager an email and explained I knew what she was going through and
offered to talk whenever she needed to.

She didn’t respond. She wasn’t ready to talk.

Christmas and the start of a new year passed. Work returned to normal. I joined another
of her conference calls. I was the first to arrive and asked, “How are you doing?”

“Well …you know.”

“I do.”

“It’s been hard.”

"Christmas and New Year’s Eve, right?”

“Yeah! To make it worse, his birthday is this week.”

“I know. Like I said in my email, it’s tough. I’ve been through it. I’m open to talk
anytime you need someone who understands.”

“Thanks, Mike.”

“It’s a year of painful firsts.”

“What do you mean, Mike?”

Others joined the call. We switched to business.

She didn’t take me up on my offer to talk. That’s OK. She’s my manager. She can’t show
weakness to her employees.

On Valentine’s day, at midday, I saw an email from her. “I have a terrible migraine and
am going home. I will be off line for the rest of the day.”

I read between those lines. I doubted she had a migraine. She had pain though. It was
in her heart.

She went through her first Christmas, New Year and then Valentine’s Day, without the
man who once filled her arms and heart with love – The beginning of her year of firsts.

She faced so much more pain. There are their birthdays, those of their children,
their anniversary, the day they first met, first date, first kiss, first time they made love,
first time they had dinner at their favorite restaurant.

The list doesn’t end. The calendar is checkered with the dates we hold special with
those we loved.

It’s a painful year.

It’s a year of firsts.

Michael T. Smith