Tuesday, December 19, 2006

But... I knew his name.

It's totally wrong, but also very human, to someone assign other people's tradegies to your own life. On Monday morning when I arrived at work, I was informed that Henry, a man who had worked at my company for 12 years, had died that morning of a heart attack. He was 46 years old. And he was one of the few people here whose names I know.

He had been experiencing some shortness of breath in the past week and was at his doctor's office getting a clean EKG just last Thursday. He was a BIG man.... not heavy, just really tall and muscular. He had felt mild chest pains and shortness of breath the day before, but figured it would pass. The morning he died, he got to work at 4:30 AM and soon was telling co-workers that he didn't feel very well and was going to sit down for a little bit. They all encouraged him to go home to rest. He sat at his desk, with 2 colleagues in his office with him, and picked up the phone to call his superior to let them know he would be going home. And before he could dial, he slumped forward and died. His colleagues did CPR until the medics got there, but he never regained consciousness. Even his wife got to his office before the ambulance took him away, but he was gone.

Everyone at work is in total shock. As one person said, "if you had told me 30 other names of colleagues who had died, I'd believe you. But not Henry." We have a lot of smokers here and one woman who literally sleeps with an oxygen tank at night. His daughter works here too -- she's 22 years old, and she and her Dad were *really* close. I can't imagine how she'll ever come back here.

I've worked here now for about 15 months, and of the 100 employees here, I think I can name about ten of them on sight. Henry was one of those guys I could name. He was somebody that you remembered meeting and who you wish you could know a little better.

My heart goes out to his family... and to my colleagues who are grieving.

And to everyone out there who ignores random pains and thinks "oh, it's nothing"... please just ALWAYS get it checked ASAP.

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