I hired you on July 19 2011.
We became friends shortly thereafter.
I’m not supposed to have favorites. Like every manager I have those that I like to work with more than others. Some employees need supervision on everything, while others do not. Some go the extra mile without asking, others barely make it to the end of their shift. Some make me work on making them better while a few select, a very small percentage, excel and challenge me to keep them busy. I’ve been abundantly blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life through my profession, some have even gotten their way into my heart. You were one of them.
You were reliable, energetic, funny, bright, handsome, hard-working, quick-witted, fiercely competitive, stubborn, a world traveler, but most of all…you were my friend. I took you into my confidence. You were one of the few who teased me back and busted my chops. I trusted you.
Wednesday 8/17/2016…you were uncharacteristically late. You didn’t answer my phone calls. You didn’t answer my texts. I grew concerned. I called your grandmother. I was on the phone with her when she found you. Her frantic screams at the other end of the phone are still ringing in my ears. I hung up and called 911 then rushed to your home. It was too late. I stood on your lawn. What do I do now? Your neighbors gathered on the sidewalk, away from your house. I took a wide walk away from them to avoid their questions. I’ve always prided myself on knowing what to do, who to call and how to brush aside the emotion and stress of the situation and get my job done. 27 years in the hot seat will do that, but this…the death of a friend who’s a big part of our store? That’s altogether unchartered territory. What’s my job now? Why…?
Who do I call first? What do I tell them. How do I keep the present crew in the dark while I try to wrap my head around this….all while mourning you myself? I go over the last conversation that we had that day. It was all business. Did I say something wrong to push you over the dark edge that you were at? Was I curt or a prick? Didn’t you know how much we loved you? How much I loved you? Jordan…all you had to do was call any one of us and you would have had an army of friends and family to hold you until the darkness passed. Now…its too late. Why…?
Arrangements to be made. Hollow heart. Scattered brain…I can’t keep my thoughts on track. Orders to be written. Customers to wait on. Coworkers to comfort. Customers ask why everyone on the crew is forlorn, so sad. It’s a bitter pill to swallow, to repeat the story and hear their shock, their disbelief. I have to go in, to work, to comfort to try to get everyone else and myself through this. My head hurts from crying so much. I’m told that I can go home. Spontaneous crying, cold shock and unanswered questions are the ingredients of this horrible day. Why…?
At night I try to sleep. I’m exhausted but memories of our exchanges cross my darkened minds eye like flames that flicker at a candles end. Bright flickers…just asking to be replayed again and again. Why…?
When I finally leave this earthly home, I wonder if God will look the other way once you and I finally meet again…because I feel like punching you hard in the chest…not violently…just to knock some sense into you. We trusted you. We called you our friend and now we’re hurting because you took you away from us. We’re selfish, Jordan. We wanted you here for a long, long time…to watch you complete college, to excel and get a career, to get married, raise a family to travel the world. That’s all gone from us now and…quite frankly…we’re hurt. We’re pissed and hurt and sad. My whole body hurts. Why Jordan…why?
This will hurt for a while…but I’ll never forget you buddy. You were a blessing to those around you…maybe we should have told you that a little more often.