Yeah, I know. Sobering isn't the word you normally associate with New Years Eve. Quite the opposite, usually. Not for me this time around. I returned from my trip to California and logged into my work email to find a note from our division vice-president announcing the death of one of our colleagues. This colleague died of a heart attack on Christmas Eve. I learned about it on New Years Eve, and it really sucked the wind out of the holiday. I missed even the wake and funeral.
Out of respect for the family, I am not going to give any names, just as I have never mentioned the name of my employer in this forum. I will say, however, that this news has hit me pretty hard. I worked closely with this person on a very difficult problem. I know this person was also involved in other difficult projects. When somebody this young dies of a heart attack, you immediately wonder how much influence workplace stress had over these events. It makes you ponder your own mortality--how much living there is left to do.
I didn't know this person very well, but then, I tend to stay a bit distant from those I work with. I do know family was very important to this person. Family was left behind, no doubt shell-shocked and wondering how to continue without this person. It's a situation you wouldn't wish on anybody, yet it happens all too often.
David Gerrold once said that the worst part about getting older is losing people you care about. He's right. I didn't know this person very well, but I did care. I cared a lot. Some of it is selfish--nobody else has the knowledge this person had. Most of it is compassionate. Somebody lost a parent, a spouse, a coach, a friend, a colleague. A future somebody will never meet a grandparent.
Dammit, this was a decent person who didn't deserve to go this soon. I'm stunned, I'm saddened, I'm angry, and I'm scared. I'm going to miss this person. Hell, I already do.