Today I received the news that the man who had been my boss for the entire time I worked in the army hospital lab had died the day before yesterday. Interestingly, at least to me, was that on that day, for some reason, he popped into my mind and I thought about sending him a card. But I didn’t.
I’d known he had cancer and his time was short, and yet, I was remiss about even sending a card to try to comfort him. I’m not sure why. A part of it is probably that I’m such a superior procrastinator.
Maybe it’s that we weren’t especially close, though we liked each other well enough. Or at least I think we did. We rarely had disagreements over that twenty years so I suppose that means something. Maybe just that he was my boss and I was good at doing what I was supposed to do. Maybe just that we didn’t disagree over much.
Now I’m feeling regret that I put off such a simple act. I’m not particularly sad that he died because everybody dies and I haven’t seen him in the twenty years since I retired on disability. Well, except at the memorial service for another co-worker and even then, he didn’t recognize me. So, we weren’t close. But I do have regrets.
You know how it’s said that we regret what we didn’t do more than what we did do and this will probably be one of those times for me. Though I do have some regrets over what I have done, too.
There was another level of emotion that came to me as I pondered and it was this: another piece of my past just disappeared. Like most people, I’ve had losses throughout my life, from childhood on, through the loss of my former husband, to loss of my parents, to loss of animals who were very special to me, to loss of my physical abilities. Losses are part of Life.
While my boss and I weren’t that close, he was present in a big chunk of my life and there’s no one else who shared exactly that part of my life with me. And now that’s lost.
Then I recalled that scene in Blade Runner where the android is “dying” and telling about all the wonders he’s seen on other worlds, wonders humans could never have experienced, and how they’ll disappear with him, “like tears in rain.” That’s always seemed a very poignant, sad scene. Unforgettable.
So now my boss is gone and his memories with him, like tears in rain. I don’t know if he wrote anything about his life for his kids to read or to pass down for family history, but if not, I think those tears in the rain will leave a lack in the world.
And it brought home to me once again the importance of memoir, of telling family stories, of keeping the “legacy” alive, even if it’s just for the family. I have some stories about my mom and dad as kids that make me chuckle even decades after their deaths. I’ll bet my nieces know nothing of them.
I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for a couple of years now, feeling I had no purpose in my writing, thinking that no one cared what I wrote, and it wasn’t even very good writing anyway, etc, ad infinitum. I think I feel that beginning to lift ever so slightly now. Maybe no one does care what I write but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a mandate to do so.
So my boss’s death has meaning for me. I can’t send him a card now, but I can go forth and write so there are fewer tears in rain.