Posted by: ubahleeob | November 7, 2010

Requiem For A Friend

Why do we do things we do?  I am dealing with the news that a friend and business peer of mine took his own life yesterday. All sorts of questions come to mind, with the most prominent being, “Why?” I have ideas, but doubt that I will ever know for sure, this side of heaven.  My friend confessed to be a follower of Jesus.  I know that Christians take their own lives, but I always wonder why  knowing what we who walk The Way know, why can’t we find comfort in the fact that “the story” is larger than just our individual part.

As I said, I have some ideas about what brought my buddy to this end.  He was middle aged and single, alone except for  his job and his church.  These  two things  took most of his life.  I just watched a video of the ministry were he served.  He looked happy, he seemed content.  His job was another story.  He managed a Homeowner’s Association and we worked for the same company.  While he and I were not in the same chain of command, our jobs and duties often crossed paths.  He was an Air Force veteran, just like me, so we would often regale each other with stories from our days in blue. If not doing that, we would trade crazy hospitality stories.  Good times.

Over the last nine months the board of the condo that he managed began to focus on every mistake he made.  None of these were business-altering mistakes, but my friend was human.  Sometimes they weren’t even really mistakes.  It’s like the guy that I used to watch on Ed Sullivan, he would spin plates on sticks. The more he got to spin, the more he would try to spin.  There is a point where he could no longer keep all of the plates spinning; some were bound to fall.  That’s what happened to my friend.  The pressure continued to mount and eventually the Board cancelled their management agreement, meaning my friend would be losing his job.

We talked about the unfairness of the situation. I have experienced something very similar to this and I have watched others go through the same thing.  You try everything possible to make someone happy and no matter what you do, it’s never good enough. It stinks. Plus, I’m sure our company blamed him (and him alone) for losing the contract. This was a major business defeat. He must’ve felt like the weight of the world was on his shoulders. Due to his “failure” not only would he lose his job, but others would be forced out of their jobs too.

He was to have worked through today.  This weekend was the annual Homeowner’s meeting.  It was the forum where the news would be announced that another company was coming on board to take his place. He was expected to attend.  To me it felt like being asked to watch your own execution.  When he didn’t show up to work, we all thought he had just decided not to partake  in the proceedings.  That’s a lot to ask of someone, no matter how “professional” you are. Who could blame him?

What I’ve really been thinking about is how this illustrates the unknown impact of our actions.  Yes, this is an extreme example, but is there anyone that has not been hurt or damaged by something someone else said or did?  Better yet, what is my responsibility?  It takes the idea that “it’s not personal, it’s only business” and turns it on it’s head.   Meg Ryan, when faced with the loss of her beloved book store in You’ve Got Mail, was told, “It’s nothing personal, it’s only business.” Her response seemed to sum up what we all instinctively know “ all that means is it’s not personal to you, but it’s personal to me.”

Hopefully, my friend is resting in the arms of his merciful Father. Hopefully, my friend knows that it wasn’t his fault. Hopefully, he  has found there what he was missing here.  Hopefully, a few of us are reminded that we are, in fact, our brother’s keeper.


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