We all know that life is synonymous with change. And yet we are masters at taking things for granted. I was reminded of that this week, when my best friend at work broke the news of her resignation after thirty years of working at our Agency. “I resigned,” she said, with tears in her eyes, after I rambled on the other day about our travel agenda for April. “You what?” I cried. “Why?”
Her reasons were valid. A better job, more work life balance, more money, an exciting and challenging new position. Nothing I could argue against, nothing that I myself wouldn’t take on if given the opportunity. And so I told myself that I had to let her go. She was decided. No amount of counteroffers, or apologies or even lofty promises would convince her to stay. I was happy for her, excited and proud as always, of the way she conducted herself even as she was giving me the news.
I am heartbroken. You see, in the crazy, confused, hectic life I’d lead, she was my only constant. We were partners in this huge project, and we pulled it off together. She, the detail oriented, system guru, operational expert and me, the financial, control and process obsessed lead. We occupied corner offices on the opposite ends of the floor. She showed up for work at 6:30 am every morning, while I waltzed into her office at 8am each day, looking for food and discussing everything with her, from my books to our projects, we laughed, we cried, we depended on each other. For two years, we traveled back and forth together. For some reason, she was always placed in the TSA pre check line. For months, I complained and whined until I gained my Platinum status and took her with me in the Priority Lane. In New York, we would walk up and down 5th Avenue together. She loved Ted Baker, while I loved everything else. We would stay on the same floor, eat street hotdogs in each other’s rooms. When I was as sick as a dog during one trip to New York, she brought me TheraFlu and nose drops, and covered meetings for me while I lay in bed, desperate to get better. We would work late nights together and on those midnight hours, when her loving husband would pick her up from the office, I would slide into the back seat of their car and they would drive the other way just to take me home.
We discovered Moscato together. And vodka. And gin and tonic. And those chips they serve at the hotel bar. She hated to read. So instead, she forced her daughter to read each and every one of my books.
And when I lost fifteen pounds, she would try her best to get me to eat. Every lunch time, one of her staff would show up at my office with a bag of food. “This is from her,” they would say. “She wants you to eat.”
We were such opposites in personality. She was grounded, practical, sharp and so very smart. I was lofty and swoony, made up my own problems, was methodical and not so witty. And yet, we made such a good team. When she spoke, I listened. And when I whined, she listened. She never judged me, she was always there to tell me how beautiful I was, how I deserved more, how she always wanted me to be happy. “I don’t care about the others,” she would tell me. “I just want you to be happy.”
She loved everything pink. We played with pink pens and sharpies and post its, pink folders and note pads and stapler guns. When the pressure was insurmountable, we threw rubber apples at the wall, placed large bills into the SWEAR JAR, made up songs about work and danced like MC Hammer down the halls.
But more than that, she was a leader, a motivator, an inspiration to all who have worked with her. The Agency will suffer greatly without her in it. And those who will never get the chance to work with her will never know the true meaning of loyalty and dedication.
“You’re taking it quite well,” she said to me today.
If only you knew, I want to tell her. How hard I’m trying to be strong for you. Because you have given so much of yourself to me and to others, that I want to do the same for you. I want you to feel good about leaving, because you deserve all the good things in life. I want you to know that you will always be with me. That whenever I look for food, or when I get a text message, or when I start to regress and feel sad all over again, I will always think of you. That even if I no longer have you to defend me, to support me, to keep me sane when those difficult decisions have to be made, I will remember what you have taught me. I want you to know that because I consider myself so lucky to have met you, I will carry on the lessons you and I have learned together.
And I want you to know, more than anything else, that I love you. That you will always be my buddy. And that our friendship won’t end just because you’re going away.
I couldn’t have survived these past two years without you. And I will always, always, be thankful for that.