A year later

Today is a year since my co-worker Amanda died, shockingly and unexpectedly. I’ve been thinking about this day for a while, probably for a few reasons.

I don’t want to pretend like I have anything profound to say. Literally hundreds and hundreds of people knew her better than I did, and today is a day for them. But I’ve thought about her a lot in this past year, so here’s a pile of words on of how I’m trying to remember her.

The one-year anniversary of something like this is powerful, especially when I’ve never experienced that (any co-worker death, much less someone only 7 years old than me). I have felt grateful to have known her — such a bright spirit and someone whose presence was always felt on our team even though she was a remote employee — and have felt bad, in some unexplainable way, for not knowing her even better.

And, while I sort of appreciated it, Facebook has insisted on highlighting her as the first person who “liked” any post that came up in my daily Memories (formerly “On This Day”). So, I’ve been watching the clock wind down on that, too — Monday was the last first anniversary of her “liking” any of my dumb status updates and check-ins. She was an active Facebooker!

While her death has been only one of several things that have shaken up my world in the past 15-18 months, I feel like I’ve been able to still learn from her in this past year — not only from what I knew of her, but what I heard from at her service, from co-workers, and by thinking about why we miss her.

We can all be nicer and more generous of ourselves and our time without being pushovers. We can always do more to get to know the people in our lives, even if it’s short or occasional conversations. We can look toward the future without forgetting to appreciate what we have, what we’ve done and who is around us. We can be proud of our work and pursuits without letting them be the only things that define us. These are all things I think about as qualities she lived.

I’m excruciatingly slow to change, but there are two things I think I’ve learned in the past year. One is from Seth Godin’s altMBA program, which was (paraphrasing) that “not everyone is ready to take the journey with you.” I might have to move past deliberate barriers, or remove negative, destructive or toxic influences — without malice — to get to where I need to be.

The second is from knowing Amanda for just a few short years: Kind and generous people are indispensable, and you should do everything you can to surround yourself with them. To choose between talent and goodness is a false choice.

Of course, we miss you, Amanda. But I’m grateful so much of you is still here with us.

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