out of the clear blue sky

I’m not supposed to be checking my work email when I’m not at work.

This is all part of a grander plan to keep me from having a nervous breakdown before I turn 30, this “no work email at home” thing, and sometimes I do just fine. Sometimes I go for weeks without checking my work email from home. But I’ve been traveling a lot lately and I’ve used that as an excuse to obsessively check my work email every half hour or so. Mostly it means that I read about drama going on in the office over which I have no control, and then I have extra time to get all worked up about it before I am in any position to deal with it.

I checked it a half an hour ago. Yeah, it’s after midnight on a Friday night, and I have to be awake at 4am to drive two hours to attend my sister’s college graduation, and there are a million things I should be doing other than checking my work email. But I did.

And because I did, I learned that a coworker of mine was killed today.

Today was a gorgeous day, bright and sunny and breezy with little humidity. People were outside everywhere. Jordan and his wife and their two little girls were at an outdoor party this evening, and a giant tree branch broke off and fell down and hit him and killed him.

I am in complete and utter shock. I am heartbroken. I keep reading the email because I can’t believe it could be true. A fucking TREE BRANCH? Seriously? Doesn’t that only happen on Grey’s Anatomy?

I didn’t work with Jordan every single day, so I remember my last conversation with him very clearly. I was having a horrible day and he dropped into my office to ask if he could get some help with something in our new database system, and I said, “If you’re just coming in to complain about things that are wrong with it, then no. Otherwise, yes.” Because that had been my entire day so far.

He sat down for a minute and we chatted and it turned out that his problem was very easy to solve. I told him I’d email him the instructions right away, and I began typing the email while he was still in my office. I have been trying for more than 30 minutes now to find it in my sent items and I can’t, and now I’m afraid that I didn’t send it after all, that during my last chance to be kind and help him out with something, I failed. He was always so nice to me and so sympathetic about the stress and additional work this conversion had caused, and he asked me to do one single thing and I think maybe I didn’t follow through.

I guess it doesn’t matter now.

He was only 36, just a few years older than I am. He was insanely nice and smart and good at his job, and I always enjoyed speaking to him and working with him. We don’t know many details yet – in fact, the email to the campus community went out only a few minutes before I read it – but I desperately hope that he did not suffer.

I could write a thousand more words and I still don’t think I could adequately convey how sad I feel right now.

3 Replies to “out of the clear blue sky”

  1. i miss your posts. i’m sorry that a new one had to come at the hands of this. however, i believe that there are just some things in life that are part of the picture that is far to big for us to see. too much for our finite minds to comprehend. maybe justin had finished what he was here to do. i’m sorry for the loss of his family and for whatever unpleasant emotions you will have to wade through. i believe his energy will always be with you, though.

  2. Hearing about a freak accident that kills someone you know is always hard to believe at first. A wonderful neighbor of ours was on her way home from a church Christmas planning event when her car hit a freak patch of ice on a sharp corner (the adjacent steep hillside was seeping water from recent heavy rains, but the ditch had become clogged, causing the water to spill over the road, where it froze from a sudden hard cold). She wasn’t wearing her seatbelt because she was 1/2 mile from home.

    Events like this clarify the need for us to sincerely make the most of each day.

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