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It Wasn’t Supposed to Be Like This

December 12, 2013

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. This was not the type of team activities a manager plans for.

We all stood as the casket was wheeled in. Ed was walking with his family. He raised a hand in acknowledgement as they made their way to the front of the chapel.

Reserved seats. But, not ones that anyone would covet today.

We were here to support Ed and his family in honoring the life of his brother Quaid, who had died suddenly from brain cancer. Death at any time is hard. And each culture finds their own way to deal with it. We were all members of the same faith, and funerals in our faith were a celebration of life. One of the tenets of our faith being the idea that families can be bound together in death as well as life.

Had Ed and his brother been men advanced in years, looking back on a lifetime of memories, the funeral would have been a celebration of that life, a chance to remember the good times and wish him on his way. But, that wasn’t the case. Quaid was a young man, not even 40. He left behind a young bride and three small children. His father spoke of the pain of burying a child. Parents shouldn’t have to bury their children. If life were fair it would always be the other way around.

Yesterday, I said I didn’t know what to say to Ammon when his 3 year old son was diagnosed with leukemia. Even more so, I was at a loss for what to say to Ed. We know we need to say something and yet whatever we say will never really be enough.

“I know how you feel”?

No, I really don’t. I’ve never buried a brother. I’ve never gathered with my family to discuss how the family will step up to provide my nephews with a father figure, and make sure my sister-in-law is cared for.

“It’s God’s will,” or “It will all work out for the best?”

Those just sound like minimizing at a time like this.

So, you give him a hug, if you’re a hugger. You let him know that while you can’t take away any of his sorrow, that you are willing to bear it with him, as much as you can. And then you go on with life. Maybe you hug your own family closer. Maybe you call your brother whom you haven’t talked to in awhile just to let him know that you’re thinking about him and you look forward to seeing him at Christmas.

With the death of Quaid, the jokes stopped. I no longer got teased about the Messaging team needing hazard pay. Or jokes about who was going to be hit with a catastrophe next. As a team, we didn’t mention it much. We all were aware of what had happened over the past several months; Mark falling on his driveway and nearly dying. Jacob falling out of his hayloft and shattering his ankle, Ammon’s son with leukemia. Ed’s son with the broken arm and the harrowing dash through the snow.

It was almost expected then, when Allen announced that his step father had passed away suddenly. He was going to take some time to go and help his mother in Colorado.

I wasn’t particularly close to him, so I’m not sure it really counts as part of The Curse.

His attempt at levity did little to lighten the mood.

Of our seven team members, five had been hit with varying levels of personal tragedy that year. Joel and I were the only two left untouched. But, even that distinction was about to change.

This is the fourth in a five part series about the most snake bit team I’ve ever worked with. Monday I told how one team member Could Have Died. . .Putting Up Christmas Lights. Tuesday was the story of another team member who fell out of a hayloft, And The Horses Just Laughed At Him. Yesterday was the story of team members children being hurt as we decided It Was Never Funny. . .But Now It Was Serious. Tomorrow, I’ll relay the final segment of our hell-year. But, I’ll also be explaining how the experiences drew us closer and strengthened our families and our friendships.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

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