farewells come too quickly

Journal entry from several years ago:

The message read: “Attention—Betty is retiring. Farewell lunch next week.”

I’ve known Betty for five years. She works two cubicles and a corridor from me. If there were a prize for motivation, Betty would win the gold. Velcro’ed on her cubicle wall is a saying every day. Today it’s a serious one, “Do not ask for tasks that equal your powers. Instead ask for powers that equal your tasks.” The other day it said “Life is too short—eat dessert first.”

The angry, the weary, the disheartened, and the temporarily insane—they all stop at Betty’s. One day, when I was both weary and insane, I stopped at Betty’s. “I need to get away from this crazy place. Maybe move to some place quiet. Quit my job. Live on less.” Betty, I’m sure, knew this was just craziness talking. But she did more than listen. The next day she brought me brochures and real estate magazines from tranquil West Virginia. She even brought train schedules and maps to show me how I could keep my job in Maryland and still move. All this she did knowing that a few rational weeks later I would come to my senses and the literature would end up in the trash.

What have I done for Betty in five years? There’s nothing I have that she needs—except perhaps my cooking. Betty loves Indian food. Neither fancy nor picky, she is delighted with a reused yogurt container filled with my leftovers. But I’m full of excuses—too late to pack the leftovers; forgot to bring it in the mad morning rush; the leftovers are just enough to stretch for dinner; too many things to carry today.

For as long as I’ve known Betty, I’ve taken her for granted. In a couple of weeks Betty will be gone. There’s little I can do to fix the past five years. But there’s plenty I can do about today and all the tomorrows.

 

 

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