I wonder how many people Tom Petty has walked through the darkness with?
One of my mentors, my friend, posted that he had a serious form of cancer on his Facebook page at the beginning if this week. It doesn’t look good. At first, I couldn’t even reach out to him, I was so angry that this is happening, that there is nothing I can do about it. Nothing I say is going to make a difference. Joe is still going to die.
I have just been completely off all week. Short-tempered, tired, just feeling low, overall.
Finally, yesterday, I swiveled around in my chair, with some documents in hand, to ask Joe’s opinion. After he finished my training, I still shared an office with Joe for over a year. It wasn’t just the volume of what Joe taught me -other people have imparted -or at least tried to -knowledge on the same subjects over the years. It was the amazing quality of Joe’s teaching. And no one has taught me the first and most important lesson the way he did. That the key to being extraordinarily in this job is to care deeply for each and every person you work with.
So even after my formal training was over, I would often turn to consult with Joe on things -maybe something new had come across my desk and I wanted his opinion to back up or contrast with my own. Maybe it was just something I thought he’d find interesting. And, it was secretly gratifying that toward the end of that year, he would turn and ask my opinion if things as well.
So I had a puzzle in front of me. I thought I’d arrived at the best solution, but before I acted on it, I wanted to ask a second opinion. I wanted to ask the expert. I weighed whether or not it was worth bothering him with, as I always did, and then I swiveled around to face his desk, and got as far as, “Hey Joe, what do you think of-”
And that’s when, of course, I realized I wasn’t in Joe and I’s old office. I was in my own office, years later, facing a blank wall.
So I’ve already added Joe to my ghosts. And he’s not even dead yet.
That night I talked to my “PTSD buddy.” I never got around to telling him exactly what happened, but he knows why we call at that hour. Al told me about the spate of nightmares he’d been having and how he’d been having to sleep on the couch so that he didn’t inadvertently punch his wife in the night. Message: these things happen to us. We find ways to deal with it. This is our normal. His called out from the other room that I should try putting lavender oil on my feet. Aromatherapy is her thing. Message: Don’t forget the science behind your PTSD. Do things to bring your adrenaline and other chemicals down and you’ll have less PTSD symptoms.
I sent a message to Joe after I hung up. “This fucking sucks. His are you doing?”
Dear Joe, I refuse to add you to my ghosts. Not while you’re still here.