Last week, a work colleague passed away. He had been in and out of hospital for a few months but seemed to be recovering when he had to be taken in again for an unrelated issue. He never came out.
It was a big shock to everybody. I confess I didn’t really know him. We worked in opposite sides of the company and our departments didn’t interact often but I heard others calling him the life and soul of his office; he was always happy, giving away a wonderful energy to the people around him.
In my distance, I still felt for the family and the people who were friends with him. The closest colleagues left work to attend the funeral and the rest, including me, stayed and waited for the procession to pass our door.
At the agreed time, we left our offices, walked to the pavement and waited. We waited 10 to 15 minutes until we saw them coming up the road. The funeral director left his car and walked ahead of the procession, slowly moving along the road as we watched in silence.
I broke down in tears. It surprised myself and I’m sure it surprised my team. As I explained, I didn’t really know him and I am seen as the tough one in the company; the one who does not back down for anyone to make sure things are done right; the one who cracks the most horrendous jokes; the one who is not easily offended or hurt by stupid comments. Still, I stood there watching as tears flowed freely down my face.
The fact is, I have been bottling up so much just to hang in there that seeing other people in pain, especially his family crying as they passed and thanked us for just being there paying our respects, it tipped my control balance and my feelings overflowed.
I wear a constant mask and the effort to keep it on is monumental. I hold my emotions back and I am very coy about them. I used to be an open book when I was younger but I gradually locked myself up. I don’t want to let anyone know how frustrated I am: with work for a while (sorted!) and, worse, with my marriage.
Failing was not an option in my book after what I saw my parents go through and I am ashamed of it. I wanted to feel loved for the rest of my life and I just don’t.
I have opened up a little with the 3 school friends I mentioned before. We created a new group with just us. They were extremely supportive but I only told them about the tip of the iceberg: my husband’s desire to move closer to where his family (crazy mom and all) is. I don’t want to move; Raven doesn’t want to move and the general advice is that I shouldn’t as I don’t think that’s the best thing for OUR family.
I don’t and I won’t.