Tonight I had planned to talk about Game of Thrones. I was so excited to revisit my favorite characters. To get back in touch with my Game of Thrones fandom buddies. This should have been the most interesting and most memorable part of my day. And it was a good episode. Everything I could have wished for. I love how all my favorite characters have moved to the spotlight. I love how things are finally really moving along. I love how the chess pieces are being carefully set up now for the upcoming explosive finale. But, despite all this, that’s not the topic of today. Despite everything, I couldn’t really focus on the episode.
My entire day today was ruined the moment I walked into work this morning. “Did you guys hear?” my coworker opened with as we were all clocking in, “the fun manager filed his resignation yesterday”. In that moment a lot of things happened at once to me. My eyes blurred, my legs turned to jelly, and my hearing grew fuzzy. Everything seemed far away and unreal. I went into shock and denial. I felt like the weight of the world had just fallen on my shoulders. And I walked out of the break room, kept walking, and never stopped. I spent my whole shift on autopilot. There were two new recruits and I was expected to help train them. I tried. I was supposed to see the fun manager when the shift changed, but I was let go of early. So I’ll never get to say goodbye. And it breaks my heart.
Now, this all probably seem like a dramatic reaction to have. That’s because it is. But let me go back and explain. My social anxiety is strong. Work has been stressful. The job hunt has been fruitless. Most of my friends are long distance. I don’t do any of the things I’m passionate about anymore. I fight with my parents daily. I’ve lost myself and I’m barely keeping my sanity and mental health afloat. Work has become the one place where I can get away from all that, regardless of how stressful or overwhelming my shift may be. But when I work with the fun manager (and, to a lesser degree, the chill manager), things are actually…well, good. Nice. Safe. The fun manager was like the Uncle Iroh to my Zuko. The Rafiki to my Simba. The Kakashi to my Team 7. He not only made things feel okay, he made them good. From the very beginning I always said that I did my best work with him. With the nitpicking manager I was the world’s greatest fuckup. With the fun manager, I was hyper-competent and hard-working.
The man himself was someone I admired greatly. Intelligent, kind, funny, driven, accepting, and friendly. As it is with me and charismatic extroverts, he initially scared the shit out of me. But he was so persistently amicable that it didn’t take long for me to lower my guard around him. When I started hesitantly using my latent sarcasm, he actually laughed. We had deep conversations on education and our thoughts about the future. We joked around with each other. The last day I saw him, I realized that I considered him a friend.
And now he’s gone. No social media. No contact information. No mutual friends. Nothing but fond memories and the keen pain of loss. I’ve cried multiple times today. I’ve never handled any form of loss well. Be it when my synagogue closed, my brother’s friends stopped hanging out together at the pool, graduating any school, or even just ending a class. Once I let someone in, I never truly let them go. And this guy blasted all my closed doors and hefty shields apart with barely any effort. If I’d had warning or time to prepare for the end, I might be reacting differently now. But the sudden manner of his exit leaves me wanting more. Longing for a deeper friendship that will now never be explored. Longing for a solid goodbye. Longing to express how important this friendship was to me right after graduating college and losing everything I’d ever known. Longing for one last shift, one last night, even one last glance. Anything but this unfinished story. The story with no middle. Only a beginning and an end. The moment it started to get interesting was the moment it was abruptly over.
Loss is never an easy thing to handle. Be it a person, place, thing, or time. Especially if it’s something that you never imagined losing or something that is a part of your daily life. There’s no guidebook on how to grieve. You’ve just got to feel the emotions and give it time to heal on it’s own. Today was a lousy day. But it’s not all bad. Because, when all is said and done, I had this pretty amazing friend for a short time. I got to know this guy and our brief friendship changed me for the better. I’ll miss you, man.