I’m not sure where to begin this. On my About Me page, I share a little about me, my passions, and what this site is about. However, I haven’t shared my motivation behind why I actually started this site; about why I am trying to figure it out on my own. As I think about sharing that to the public via the world wide web, my heart is racing. It is pretty private, but I now realize it doesn’t have to be.
Previously, I worked on the East coast as an executive manager for a mid-size non-profit behavioral healthcare organization. Part of my duties involved managing the technology and systems we used throughout the company and its various locations. After some budget cutbacks and typical turnover, I hired a few temps. One after another did not work out, but then one did. His name was Desmond. He ran circles around the other temps. He never asked how to do anything that was assigned to him. Whatever he didn’t know, he figured out. In his first month, he helped clear our 3 month backlog of open help desk issues. When the opportunity came to hire him full time, I jumped at it. He fit right in with my small department. I only had half the standard amount of staff needed to support the size of our organization, the type of technology we dealt with, and the multiple locations we served. We all would work long days, remotely from our homes, on weekends, and holidays; whatever it took to maintain the technology and keep the organization going. IT was a passion we all had. We were all about technology, all about laughing, and all about what was for lunch! It was a very high stress environment and if you couldn’t laugh, the stress would get to you. Really.
Dare I say we were all friends? Yes. Absolutely! We all talked about our individual histories, our children, and our families. My daughter, a frequent visitor to my office since she was an infant, knew my staff very well. Later on, my sons did too. They thought Desmond was so silly and at the same time, the “smartest computer guy ever!” Our staff meetings and planning sessions were full of tasks and full of laughter. Sometimes, too much laughter, I was told once. (Too many tasks, too.)
So how does my past life as a manager and the staff I had translate into my motivation for making my own website and teaching myself WordPress, photo editing, and so on?
I’m getting there! I’m a babbler! Fast forward some time. I relocated from Philadelphia to Chicago. Eventually, I was no longer with the company. But we did all stay friends. I kept in touch with Desmond, even if he was Star Wars and I was Star Trek. When I came out to Philly to visit, I always stopped in at the office. We all had lunch and laughed. We chatted often via facebook, texting, and calls. A few times, I felt strongly prompted to call him. My gut was always right, he had fallen ill. One time, I called moments after he had a stroke. He was always upbeat that at least he was still here… this time. He never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him.
My son reminds me of him. They both have a ready smile, love to make people laugh, and seem to live every single day to its fullest for they each seem to know that no one is promised tomorrow, especially since they both have heart issues. From the day we all met Desmond, his heart was only functioning at 15%. He needed a new heart for years. He was on two handfuls of medication daily. The only time he ever missed work was if he was hospitalized. Despite what he was going through, he kept his company Blackberry on him. Only one of his cardiac issues was the same as my son’s. When my son was 6 weeks old and in the NICU at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Desmond checked in constantly. There was not a heart medication out there that Desmond had not been on and he assured me that my son would be ok. Desmond knew that the likelihood of getting a new heart was slim, but he was not bitter or depressed; instead, he lived every day to it’s fullest. He laughed often. He kept learning new technologies and expanding his knowledge. He kept on smiling, knowing that the next stroke could be his last.
A little more than a year ago, I tossed around the idea to my husband that I wanted to expand my IT knowledge a little more; I wanted to learn HTML and see what’s involved in setting up websites and such. He said, “Go for it”. Before I did, I checked in with Desmond, who managed several sites outside of his regular job. I ran a bunch of my ideas past him. He agreed, said it was all doable, and said I could go to him with whatever questions I would have.
I valued his opinion. He was one of my best friends. By now, you are noticing my use of past tense. A year ago today, Desmond passed on. It was through an incredible series of what I will call coincidences that I happened to be several hundred miles from my home and was in Philly for a few hours, that he left a list of people for his family to contact should he not be able to do it himself, and that I was on that list. I am honored that he thought as highly of me as I thought of him to include me on that list. I am forever grateful that his girlfriend called me when she did, that I was able to see him at the hospital and talk to him, even if he may not have heard me or knew I was there. Later, I knew when he passed before I got the phone call.
I will not even try to equate my grief with that of his family. My heart hurts for his family’s grief. I am a very introverted person; I can count on my hand my close friends. There is a big hole there now. Desmond and I had the same sense of juvenile humor, so many,”that’s what she said’s”. We would talk operating systems and network technology. Although he was a devout Catholic, we spoke at great length about the Bible, the Hebrews, and the Book of Mormon. We talked current events, world news, and history. We talked about food, recipes and restaurants to try. If I hear Real McCoy or Stevie B, I burst out with laughter, we always joked about his love of Dance music. I can’t put a number on the amount of times this year I’ve thought about sharing something on his Facebook page for him.
There is not a day that goes by that he doesn’t cross my mind. Since then, I’ve had to put my big girl pants on and go on. As I fumble through learning this WordPress stuff and photo-editing, I am always tempted to text him. This was his realm. So many times, this all seems too hard and I want to throw in the towel, go back to what I know. But I can’t. I just can’t. I am still here. It would be a waste for me not to try and grow a little more each day. I still laugh at corny things, although I mostly laugh alone. I complete other people’s statements with “That’s what she said”, but it’s said in my head, not aloud.
Desmond, I feel my son has a guardian angel watching over him. We will hang out again one day and you can rib me about how long it took me to figure out how to attach media in WordPress, why did I let so many funny moments pass without acknowledging them, and how ironic it is that I’ve had to take the advice I used to give to the temps, to “just Google everything” before asking someone. I’m not a quitter; I’ll keep going. I am still here.