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Rest in Peace, My Friend

My heart is aching today. I woke up this morning thinking about my friend, Mary Lou, who I haven’t heard from in a long time. I decided to reach out to her and see if she wanted to grab some coffee this weekend.

She found me on social media a few years ago, and our only way of keeping in touch was through Facebook. I went to her page and saw her last post was from December 1, 2019. My heart sank because she posted a lot until that day.

Fearing the worst, I typed her name into my search engine and found her obituary. She passed away December 1, 2019 of a sudden illness. I feel horrible that I didn’t know of her passing. Her kids didn’t put anything on her Facebook page, and I don’t regularly read the obituaries in the newspaper.

I met Mary Lou when I began my first “big girl” office job. It was with a huge corporation, and I was green as could be. I’d taken office classes in high school, but nearly ten years had passed between then and when I was hired.

Mary Lou took on the role of mentor for me. She showed me how to use fax cover sheets, how to send email, manipulate the fancy copier, make Excel do what I wanted, and basically taught me the office protocols of the time.

One day when I was completely overwhelmed and stressed, she looked at my desk and all of the work I was trying get through. She shook her head and said, “Honey, you have to prioritize.”

She started going through my work and making different piles. Reports for the boss were my first priority. Complaints were my second. Filing was my third, and so on. By the time she was finished, I had a much better handle on everything I needed to do.

It wasn’t just my work life about which she advised me. I got married and took on the responsibility of two young step-children while I worked with her. The kids were outside my realm of expertise. She shared her child-rearing and relationship wisdom with me at a time when I was flying by the seat of my pants and losing altitude fast.

It’s easy to lose track of people when you rely on social media. I have a little more than four hundred friends on Facebook, which is far less than most people. There are so many posts from so many people that I don’t notice when someone is quiet.

She was my coworker and my mentor, but most importantly, she was my friend. I wish I had invited her out for coffee when we first reconnected.

Rest in Peace, Mary Lou.

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