Often I think social media and the blog·o·sphere do a heck of a good job of putting lipstick on pigs. The social media happy spin.
Even I have asked people to read a book on authenticity with me and take a 12 days of kindness challenge; I've posted holiday baking, the kids end of year shows, and all the festive goodness of this time of year. But behind it all, I'm also doing the social media spin/lipstick on the pig.
So here it goes: The truth is I am very, very sad. I lost my friend and colleague, Robert, last week. I told my children that he went to bed and didn't wake up; but the reality is he took his own life. Suicide. I am not trying to lie to my kids - they are very young and I am just not ready to start talking with them about suicide as part of life in any way.
I am lucky to have known Robert. I feel genuinely blessed to have had him in my life the past two years. Two short years. Robert hired me as a marketing independent contractor to work with him for his fitness company. We spoke on a weekly basis for work. We planned, schemed and dreamed. But we also talked often about fear and regret; we talked about living outside of our comfort zones and learning how to grow.
In the past eight days I have run through the gamete of emotions and questions. Why was he so happy on Friday and then Monday completely without hope? I look through my missed calls and wonder what if I'd answered those calls... what if I had sent him the reminder text on Sunday evening instead of Monday afternoon?
And why. Why is totally out of my scope of understanding. I will never understand because what I thought of him, and what he thought of himself, were not the same thing. I saw an incredibly talented, intelligent and kind person. I saw a man with so much information and insight. He knew everybody, he remembered everything, and he could tell story after story about traveling and fitness without missing a beat.
While he was interesting, he was also interested. He would ask about my life, my family, my goals. He would question my plans and nudge me into directions I hadn't really thought all the way through. He asked, no kidding, the best questions - he was incredibly inquisitive -of anyone, too, not just me. We would be on the phone with someone and Robert would expect a certain outcome; he could ask the right questions to create the outcome he desired. Sometimes, even if he knew the answer, he would still ask the questions and get me thinking about it and then I start questioning, why do I think that, and then before I knew it my perspective on the situation was broader.
The small glimpses he shared with me about his sadness were just that - small glimpses into his reality. Never enough information that I ever thought he was where he was. Now though, that he has taken his life, I replay our conversations in my head and I think and wonder, "Oh Melissa..that..that one was a bad day for him."
We talked often recently about direction for the business. We talked about how to keep growing and thriving in an industry that is always changing. We talked about our immediate actions and our long term goals. Maybe while I felt hopeful for the future he felt anxious about it? The simple fact is, now I will never know. And it makes me incredibly angry that I do not get to talk to him anymore. My heart breaks for his broken heart and I ache for his family.
In October Robert was here in my home, having dinner with my family, and playing piano with my daughter. He said, "Let's set up a zoom video conference for me and the Goose to practice again...she has an incredible ear, Melissa." I've watched the footage of him standing beside her, in his comfortable way, umpteen times. I've listened to his voicemail and scoured the email threads - looking for something unknown.
I still talk to him when I am working. He always says the same thing, "Listen...we will never know until we try...Let's do it once, and then go from there...If we get 10% I'm happy..." Listen. Listen. He said listen incessantly. "Listen, I think it's a good idea, but I've been down that road before... Listen, I don't want you to get too excited about this...Listen, one good post is all we need this week. Listen, recovery is as important as the exercise."
Now that I've taken the lipstick off the pig. There is something else I'd like to mention. If you see me, you don't have to look at me like I'm broken. You can simply say, "How are you doing today?" It is not an imposition to be asked questions about him or about what I'm feeling that day, because I'll be honest some more - every day I have felt different than the day before. I am sad, but I am trying to keep my light shining because I believe 100% that God put me on a path to meet Robert and I will follow His lead. I pray for the ability to continue Robert's mission; I can only say that it was an honor to work along side him for the brief time I could. He was the best mentor and I miss him.